Monday, 20 August 2012

A Change in Direction

Being only a year away from going to university can be scary, especially if you’re still unclear about what you would like to do. This was me in grade twelve at Pauline Johnson Collegiate. 

I was creating my schedule for second semester and realized I had two credits to fill and nothing to fill them with. At this point I thought I wanted to be a museum librarian and started to consider a co-op in that field, so I could really know if that was the right job for me. I was accepted for a co-op position at Brant Museum and Archives. I was over the moon happy! I was finally going to be doing something I enjoyed.
Unfortunately, it became apparent to staff and myself that it wasn’t for me. I loved cataloguing pictures of the different parts of Brantford that have gone through astonishing development; from the filled in canals of Greenwich Street to the blue prints for the bridge that turns Paris Road into Brant Ave. The co-op was an amazing experience that broadened my historical knowledge of Brantford but the problem came when my need to socialize was not being fulfilled. I am very much a social butterfly and after a good forty-five minutes in a quiet office I needed to get up and talk to someone! Anyone!

One morning I was called into the museum director’s office for a talk. I was sure I was doomed; this was my verbal pink slip. Fortunately, what I did get would help change my career plan in a very positive way. Instead of being scolded for my sociability I was encouraged to embrace it. The director at the time, Joan Kanigan, told me that my co-op was going to be moved to Myrtleville House Museum where my more energetic personality would be appreciated and put to good use. It’s incredibly refreshing to be told to continue being yourself, to have an individual go out of their way to accommodate you, not force you to be something you’re not. For that I will always be grateful.

The next week I started at Myrtleville House Museum. I was going to be doing Christmas programming in the mornings with other volunteers. A cool, calm, and collected Lisa Anderson filled me in on everything that goes on during the programs but could not have verbalized the crazy mornings that were ahead. Every morning there was a group of loud and excited students from any number of grade schools from Brantford and Brant County. I led the tour groups while other volunteers baked, made toys, and created Christmas crafts with the students. I fell in love with working with the children, and telling them all about history. It was the most gratifying experience to have enthusiastic students come through asking insightful questions and really getting involved with the lessons. I soon became increasingly interested in the job of Education Officer and I started seriously thinking about doing what I saw Lisa do every day. 

I ended my co-op with the promise of coming back for March break camp. For that week I soaked up every moment I had, leading the kids in games and crafts that were not only fun, but learning based. Currently, I am the Historical Interpreter for Myrtleville House Museum and I love it. Along with giving tours and developing interactive ways of doing so, I also get to help with education programming. Sharing our heritage with others has to be the most amazing job there is. Thanks to the people that share my passion for the past, I am moving forward in my education with peace of mind that there is a profession in history that truly fits me.

Come visit Myrtleville House Museum and meet our enthusiastic Heritage Interpreter, Shelby.

         For more information regarding volunteer opportunities, please visit us here

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Shelby. I know you've been an asset at the Brant Historical Society and wish you all the very best in your future education pursuits.