“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost

This summer in DC has been a whirlwind. Although I’m grateful for my time here and the experiences I’ve had, I’m ready to leave the District. My departure will also signify the end of my time as an undergraduate therefore my emotions feel amplified by the passage into a new phase of life. I’m equipped with more skills, connections, and friends than before I landed in the gloomy, sometimes swampy, District of Columbia. Importantly, I became more focused on my goals and my academic interests (thesis’ prep!) My internship showed me another side to museums which I was previously unfamiliar while also preparing me for the rigor of research in anthropology.

“Two Tramps in Mud Time,” felt roundabout and disjointed the first time I read through it. After spending time trying to deconstruct each stanza and then looking at it again as a whole, I began to formulate my interpretation of Frost’s words. My first impression of the first stanza was more literal than metaphoric. I felt, as it was a warning of others who may linger and be overly interested in your work. Those who are concerned with your affairs particularly those in the work place, could be malicious in the their interest and they often reappear as they did in the poem. I came to DC, with a perception alike to common stereotypes of the hustle of a capital city. The beginning to “Two Tramps in Mud Time,” felt reflective of the cutthroat feeling that DC can emit.

As the poem goes on, the admission that the presence of onlookers sparked motivation and appreciation of one’s work in the gaze of others struck me. I have had moments in my internship where I was met with both praise and inquiry from my peers as well as those in higher positions. I can relate to that attention reigniting my passion and affirming my abilities in the field. Throughout the summer, I’ve definitely had some difficult moments and reminding myself that I’m working in the Smithsonian gaining invaluable skills for my future was sometimes hard. Though I felt the poem took self-praise as a natural, welcomed reaction but also as limitation to the understanding of others.

My summer as a Capital Scholar has pushed me to evolve as a professional, friend, citizen, and an intellectual. As the last lesson reveals itself in the final stanzas of the poem, these moments of reflection as I pack up to leave DC are proving to be contrary to my prior conceptions. My internship has allowed me to see the field of anthropology and museums from a whole new lens. I’m able to better identify with the grievances of researchers and patrons alike in respect to museums as well as those who bemoan the pace of government work. In direct correlation to my interest in cultural heritage, expression, and identity, I’ve had my senses broaden through this experience. I, like Frost, am finding the ways to weave my interests with my work and study. Through this experience I’ve gained a clearer picture of how I can make that a reality.


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