During the second week of my internship with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) I provided support for PHC’s first ever “SpeakEasy: A Networking Mix and Mingle.” The event afforded members of the humanities community the opportunity to network with each other and connect with PHC. The event was such a success that our team set out to plan a second SpeakEasy in Erie, Pennsylvania.
From calling musicians and managing the budget to printing nametags and researching local humanities organizations, from the start I was a part of making the event a reality. After spending a great deal of time and energy on planning the SpeakEasy, I was so excited and fortunate that PHC flew me out to Erie to attend the event.
It was such a thrill to see everything come together in a really lovely evening. I listened to the musician that I had booked and met many prominent members of the Erie humanities community that I had only previously heard about. My first ever business trip was topped of when we watched the sun set over the lake as I felt very proud of the event we had all put together.
In addition to working on the SpeakEasy, during my last weeks at PHC I was also given the very fun, albeit seemingly daunting task, of defining the humanities. The definition is going to be used in the newly revised Request for Proposal that PHC is putting together as part of their new grant direction. After researching at the way in which other councils define the humanities, I was able to pick out the most common and what I believe to be the most important aspects of the humanities. In the end I came up with the following definition:
“The humanities are the stories and the ideas that convey what it means to be human. They connect us with each other and start conversations that cause us to think critically, engage with our communities, and grow. The humanities provide continuity with the past, reflect the present, and illuminate possibilities for the future, fostering a greater understanding of the world and our place in it.”
I wanted to ensure the focus of the definition was on the way in which the humanities connect us with each other and the world around us. I am fascinated by the way in which a novel can transport the reader to an entirely different world and offer insight into what would otherwise be a completely foreign experience. When considering the humanities’ power to form connections, it is fitting that the PHC hosts networking events to connect people, ideas, and stories. After a SpeakEasy attendee thanked us for gathering members of the humanities community and spoke of how appreciative she was for the opportunity to make connections with others, I was proud that I helped make that happen.
As I look back on the past 10 weeks, I am extremely grateful to the PHC and Haverford’s Humanities Center for such a beneficial, productive, and inspiring internship experience. I feel very fortunate that I was able to make meaningful connections with the wonderful and supportive PHC staff, the humanities community, the non-profit sector, and better understand the world around me and my place in it.