Youth Teaching Assistant Narrative

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Last summer, I volunteered as a Youth Teaching Assistant at the National Smithsonian where I taught about twenty kids from around the world how to make their own pinhole cameras and develop their photos in the darkroom.

Although it was a temporary and unpaid position, in many ways I consider this to be my first real job. I had to fill out an application, be interviewed over the phone, and attend a training session.

During the week long class, I got up early every morning to begin my commute by metro to DC. When I got to the museum, I had to sign in and prepare for the kids to arrive. The other Youth Teaching Assistants and I were in charge of checking the kids in and out at the beginning and end of the day, supervising lunches and activities, helping the instructors set up and clean up, taking the kids outside to take photos, offering assistance with building their cameras and developing their photos, and answering questions.

It was interesting to go from learning about photography to teaching it to others. Instead of being treated like a student, I was seen as a mentor and authority figure.

I’ve been going to the Smithsonian museums since I was a toddler, but this position showed me a whole new side of them. Instead of simply visiting and observing, I got to work side by side with people who work diligently all year round to keep the museums running smoothly.
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Unfortunately as we age, many people lose that curiosity and creativity. Watching the kids’ faces light up when they saw their photos show up in the developer reminded me why I love photography so much in the first place. The satisfaction of seeing an image appear in the developer after working so hard on it or getting the perfect digital shot after hundreds of attempts is ineffable. I am grateful that I was given a chance to share my passion with others and I hope to have more opportunities like this in the
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