Lauren's Story :
Lots of little kids want to be princesses, race car drivers, or astronauts when they grow up; third grade me thought differently. I have a distinct memory of the moment in which I set my life goal. I was on a field trip to Lang Pioneer Village and after seeing most of the museum my group walked into the General Store. It was there that I announced to the costumed interpreter working behind the counter that I was going to be a pioneer when I grew up. Like most little kids I had not come up with a plan or really even examined the feasibility of this goal. However, if I could go back in time and tell my eight-year-old self that I now work in that same general store she probably would not be surprised.
Since that third-grade field trip, I have known magic to be real (a fact that probably would have elicited a “duh” from eight-year-old me). Now I have no proof of spells or sorcery, only the experience of the power of story. When we present history as a story, we are able to time-travel to distant lands and years that we ourselves never experienced. We can conceptualize those who came before us in ways that allow compassion and empathy and through this humanization of the past can begin to better understand the role that we ourselves are playing in history.
For me that is why places like the Pioneer Village are so important and so magical. Being a historical interpreter has allowed me to be a tour guide to the past in both a metaphorical and literal sense. It has given me the opportunity to be a part of facilitating the connections that museum visitors make between themselves and the stories of the families that the museum presents.
Though it can often feel like history is contained only within places like Lang, part of the magic of history is that it is always surrounding us. Over the past summer I was able to be part of a team that is developing an app that will allow users to explore Peterborough’s past through the creation of personalized walking tours. By taking part in these tours people will be able to gain a better
understanding of history of the places that they walk past everyday. It is my hope that it will remind them that they were not the first to walk these streets, live in these houses, or shop in these stores, and that maybe they will take the time to acknowledge and to learn from those who were in their places years ago.
Since I have already achieved my childhood dream of becoming a pioneer, I have had to set new goals. Though institutions like Lang Pioneer Village have always felt like home to me, it does not mean that they are beyond improvement. Museums often pose challenges to visitors with accessibility concerns and can easily fall into the trap of presenting one sided narratives. In the future it is my hope that I can find ways to help to reduce the barriers to inclusion within these institutions so that everyone has access to the stories that they share. I want to build a world where everyone is able to experience the magic of history.