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Unexpected Journey at World Monuments Fund

Each year, WMF hosts a summer intern from the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design (WHSAD). Angela Huang, an incoming senior at the school, joined us for six weeks this summer. Below, Angela shares her experience of working at our office.

On July 13, the day I started my internship at World Monuments Fund, I was a ball of nerves. I didn’t know what to expect as this would be the first time I interned in a large office setting. I was informed late into my school year that I had another interning option due to recommendations from school staff that I qualify for this internship. At the time I hesitated as I was nervous about working in an environment alien to me. However persistent persuasion from fellow peers influenced me to feel that this internship would be beneficial to me. This internship would allow me to gain an insight into how a non-profit organization prioritizing historic preservation works and functions from the smallest details.

It would allow me to experience new ideas I haven’t thought of pursuing before. The moment I walked through the front doors of World Monuments Fund’s NY office I was welcomed in by a lady who I would learn was Johnette. Shortly thereafter I met Stephanie Ortiz who was my supervisor for the summer. She gave me a brief tour of the office and introduced me to some of the staff members and informed me of where I would be seated. After my introduction to Ed Guillen, the IT specialist, I would receive an assignment from Yamilette Yatiz of the finance department. My assignment would require me to file and organize folders for the next fiscal year, contracts, tax forms, and other supporting documents for entry into the organization’s database. I started out sorting each and every file into alphabetical order as I was instructed to do and placed each file into folders for every letter of the alphabet.

With my previous projects completed I moved on to scanning other documents and renaming each file. With the rapid pace I worked at, I received a project from Stephanie to scan old Watch nominations from the 2000 and 2002 Watch. One project after another allowed me to sharpen my organizational skills. Another world I was given the privilege of experiencing was how staff are informed of daily operations made by WMF during meetings. In such a meeting I attended, Gaetano Palumbo, the Program director for North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia at WMF, gave a lecture on the efforts to preserve the interiors of Qusayr ‘Amra in Jordan.

Over time the efforts of previous organizations to preserve the buildings have also led to damage of the structure. From such buildings a string of influences is unveiled as art is a form of expression and communication. Religion however plays a major role in the expression of art in countries all around the world and especially in the Middle East and it brings you to various interpretations of similar art with a symbolism or message to the eyes of the beholder. Through his lecture, I gained deeper knowledge of the histories of specific regions and how cultural diffusion has influenced the arts of those native to a region.

My experience has allowed me to conclude that history and architecture are essential to the other through art. Building art exposes the possibilities of what ethnic group was present in a certain time period in a land they may not be native to. This lecture has opened up my mind about the significance of historic preservation as it unveils many mysteries ground deeply in the style and location of the structure.