A blog dedicated to the (mis)adventures of Arden Jordan, PRH intern and intrepid traveler
Last Day - Desk at Project Row Houses and finished project (complete bibliographies of all found sources about Project Row Houses)
I came to Houston because it scared me, it scared me in ways that I didn’t even want to admit to myself. However, I knew that at the end of my time at PRH I would have grown in ways that I wouldn’t have at the other internships I was offered. I knew that working at a community arts organization would help me to look at my plan in a completely new way.
I was right, I grew. I tried and cried and came out a lot stronger and also a lot weaker. I know more fully who I am and at the same time I know that I have a huge capacity for change.
- what I want to do in the future. I have a name for what I want to do: “community-based history work.” I want to combine my love for history, community and social justice into physical exhibits, spaces and dialogues. I want to spend my time at Bennington learning the tools I can use to do this. I want to do internships and organizations where I can explore all parts of my passion.
- that social inequality is one of the largest issues in the US right now and race plays a huge role in this. Race is a really important issue, an issue that is multi-faceted and does not have a simple answer. However, a good place to start is acknowledging that it is an issue. Having a bi-racial president does not mean we are “over” racism. Being a white liberal who “believes” in social equality is not enough.
- that there are amazing, beautiful, intelligent people in the world that I want to meet and work with and there are cool, amazing cities that I want to work in and really amazing organizations. I am really excited to be a working adult and get to discover all these great people/places/organizations.
- that being happy is important but being unhappy is important too. Being lonely and sad is really good sometimes because once you analyze WHY you are feeling that way you learn a lot about yourself and what you can and can’t handle.
- being an introvert is an excuse that I use to explain not throwing myself into situations and is not an acceptable excuse. I need to stop thinking so much, if I feel like doing something I should do it. Talk to strangers, go to events, travel and it’s okay to do all these things alone.
- that Bennington is the place where I need to be and the only place where I would get to fully explore what I am passionate about. I am the happy, fulfilled person I am because I came here. I have moments where I doubt myself and my course of study but these moments are really important and are all part of the Bennington process.
I changed a lot this FWT but in really subtle ways. It’s that feeling you get when you know something has changed but you can’t quite put your finger on it. I was not happy in Houston, but there were moments when I was the happiest I’ve ever been.
I left Houston with more questions than I had when I went. However, I also gained so much knowledge and confidence in my passions and my abilities.
I will end this last blog post with a quote from the author from the PRH mission statement.
"Community is our artform, the canvas of our transformation. It’s where we find renewal and support."
I feel that my last post was kind of a bummer, so I wanted to put all the good feelings I had this Field Work Term.
There were times this FWT that I felt independent, capable, and really euphorically happy. The best feeling I had during Field Work Term was the feeling of ignorance. This doesn’t sound like a good feeling but it was really amazing. I learned so much about myself and the world around me. This was facilitated by feeling on a daily basis that I was out of my league, that I was dealing with issues that I had never even thought about.
I was forced to face my own white privilege on a daily basis. I was forced to think about race in a completely new way. Rick said that during the 20th century race was seen as a “black issue.” He thinks that it’s time for race to be seen as a white problem. I was raised in a very white state and go to a very white college. I am so privilege and many times it’s in ways that I don’t even realize. Race is still in issue in America. It is a HUGE issue and it is an issue that the average “White American” does not think about. It is time that they did. As the gap between classes grow in America, Americans need to realize and face all the parts that play into social inequality: education, gender, race etc.
I was forced to face my pre-conceived notions of history, gentrification, museums and art. I was forced to re-evaluate many concepts that I thought I knew.
I felt really ignorant and confused this Field Work Term. I left Houston feeling so much more confused about things than when I arrived and that is AMAZING. I have learned so much and I know that I need to learn much more before I do what I want to do (something that I am still working on too).
This feeling of ignorance was wonderful because knowing that you don’t know something is the first step to learning. The times I felt happiest and most fulfilled at PRH were the times when I realized how intelligent and great the people around me were and how much I still had to learn.
I learned so much, and I get to spend the rest of my life learning. I will never not be ignorant about something and that is such an amazing thing.
There are some things that are really nice about traveling alone; I like how I get to choose where I go and when I leave. However, traveling alone is really (surprise!) lonely.
There were days during this Field Work Term when I felt really, really lonely. My parents got a lot of I’m-waiting-at-a-bus-stop-so-talk-to-me-please phone calls, almost as common as the I’m-lost-and-don’t-have-a-smartphone calls.
It was hard living alone too. I would get done work at around 6 and then go home to my empty shotgun house. If I didn’t Skype anyone that night I could go over 12 hours without talking to another person (not including my long-winded conversations with myself of course).
The worst times were when I was out and about in the city, surrounded by people but feeling completely alone. There is a difference between having a virtual support system one call away and having that support system just down the hall, whether I’m at home or at school.
For example when I was in Austen I stayed with a friend of a friend. I had sent an email giving my arrival time. However, when I got there at 8 at night, she wasn’t home. She didn’t answer her phone after multiple phone calls and text. It was 30 degrees out, dark and I was in a city I didn’t know. I was scared. Really scared and really lonely. I didn’t have a support system near me. There was no one I felt close enough to call for help in Austin.
There were particular moments like that throughout the internship where I felt really, really alone. There were other parts of the loneliness that were just drawn out. There weeks where I didn’t receive physical affection from anyone. It may seem like a small thing, but going without a hug or kiss or anything wears on the spirit.
The worst thing was that this loneliness was combined with self-doubt and trouble sleeping. The self-doubt was caused by working at PRH and me starting to analyze my passion and future plans in a very critical way.
When I was kid I had trouble sleeping. I remember nights sitting in my bunk bed not being able to sleep. This unfortunate trait seemed to not follow me into adulthood until this year. This last term I woke my roommate up crying because I couldn’t sleep several times.
This continued in Houston. The nights in Bennington were isolated incidents, the nights in Houston were often and usually in the same week. There would be weeks when I would get by very few hours of sleep, which is really hard for me.
So if asked if I was happy during FWT, I can’t truthfully say yes. I wasn’t unhappy by any means but the days that were wonderful and glorious were tempered by the days when I just really didn’t want leave my bed.
The closest thing I have to compare to is how I felt in high school. When asked if I was happy in high school, my reply is usually “happy enough”. There were some months when I had a lot of fun and loved my friends, teachers and classes. There were also months when I was so depressed I cried every time I got home.
This FWT has been many things, enlightening, interesting and fun but it has also been really hard too. Even though it is beautiful in Houston, my mind and heart have been going through a very hard winter.