Emily Murtaugh | Newseum

Hello! My name is Emily Murtaugh and I am a freshman intending to study Anthropology with a minor in Education. For my CSLP project I am volunteering primarily with the Newseum for my Psychology of Education class. While these two programs may seem very different, throughout this semester I have learned a lot about being critical of the ways students learn and have applied this to my work at the Newseum. For instance, learning about long term memory corresponds to when I make tours. These two ideas correlate because I know to pull from visitor’s prior knowledge to make a connection that visitors will remember long after their visit. The Newseum is a non-profit museum that prides itself in championing the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, religion, petition, and assembly. In my service, I am training to become a tour guide with the museum and am creating my own tour content for each of the museum exhibits. This experience is not the typical volunteer experience because instead of serving to benefit people’s physical needs, like I could at a soup kitchen, I am serving people’s hunger for knowledge. Going into this program, I had the expectation that to become a tour guide would be very easy and quick process. Little did I know I was beginning a semester long training where I would learn about each exhibit individually.

In addition to volunteering at the Newseum, I also have been volunteering at with Reading Partners through the DC Reads Program. In this environment, I have learned a lot about student’s needs in the classroom. In this program, I tutor students in literacy from kindergarten to third grade. What I find so fascinating is how different each student is and how ever hour there is a new challenge I face.

The most surprising experience I have had thus far is the ability I have had to connect my service to the real world. One specific instance of this was when I visited a friend and I saw a quote on a museum that read the following “A Museum is a School. The Artist Learns to communicate. The public learns to make connections.” Seeing this quote made me realize how important the museum is to our society and culture. The museum is the place where everybody can learn something new and I think is important to acknowledge that schools are just the cornerstone to a larger world of learning. This semester’s volunteering is just the start for my volunteering experience. As a result of my interest in education, I am going on the Alternative Break to India this summer. Continuing my service is an important part of my CSLP experience because I enjoy interacting with my community outside of American University in a multi-faceted way.

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