Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Infection, Love, and Telecommuting: Bet You Never Thought You'd See that Headline!

Hello, dear readers,

Much has happened since last week ended and this one began, and I'd be lying if I told you that it's been a thrilling ride. An infection that I battled before my mentorship began (in fact, it forced me to delay it) has reared its ugly head once more, this time with more venom. After several days of trying to wait it out, seeking treatment from an Atlanta clinic, trying antibiotics, and worsening symptoms, I have decided to return to Illinois to receive better care than I can as a visiting adventurer in Georgia.

You learn a lot about people when plans change. Everyone is positive and upbeat when events fall into place, but when life has other ideas and reshuffles your calendar, sometimes ire supersedes compassion. Happily, this has been the antithesis of what I have encountered with my Atlanta and Eureka College contacts and supportive family members and friends. 

My parents—truly the best in the world—have done their absolute best to be by my side throughout this painful, difficult time. Every time I needed them, they were there and handled me and my idiotic questions, fears, and needs like only the world's most amazing and selfless parents ever could. Shari Rich, Assistant Director of the Ronald W. Reagan Leadership Program that made this entire trip possible, has spent this week regularly checking in on me, coaching me along, and sharing in my medical frustrations. Though 800 some miles separate Illinois and Georgia, their genuine care and support made me feel like they were all right next door. Not to frighten anyone, but I could not have survived this week without these three amazing people. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you for everything.

My primary contact at the Carter Museum, Joshua, and the couple I am staying with have also been tremendously understanding, helpful, and supportive. In fact, though I am leaving Atlanta at the end of this week, I will still be able to work on curriculum development through the wonders of telecommuting! I am thankful that despite illness, as Joshua put it, "all will not be for naught!" My short stay at the Carter Museum was very enjoyable and enlightening, and I am thrilled that I will be able to fulfill some of my duties on behalf of such an awesome group of fellow history lovers.

And last but certainly not least, thank you to Kaitlyn Hild, Sarah Zuniga, and Kevin and Sue Glover for keeping me electronic company during this trying time. Your love has made this experience more tolerable than you will ever know!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

First Week Fun!

I finally started working at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum this Monday and have had a blast working with mentor, Joshua, who serves as the Museum's Education Specialist (a role that really encompasses 2.5 different jobs!) and Mary and Maya, the two other education interns. Our collective role this summer is to help Joshua develop new or updated lesson plans and materials that he and his volunteers use when local schools have field trips at the site. We will also give tours to school groups, and we hope that I will get at least one opportunity to lead a group through our exhibits during my remaining two and a half weeks in Atlanta. Given that Georgia explicitly includes Jimmy Carter in their 2nd grade state standards, most of the consumers of our content will be youngsters. That means no room for wild metaphors and undying run-on sentences, as you will likely see here, haha!

So far, I have walked through the Carter Museum's exhibits—including a special exhibit on the Georgia film industry, which Jimmy Carter helped launch during his term as governor—at least five or six times, and I am consistently amazed by the former president's balance of humility and ambition. In the preparatory speech drafts; relics from his childhood in Plains, Georgia; and myriad post-presidential accomplishments, I have witnessed the life of a man who was both convinced that he was the right man to guide the U.S. towards a brighter and more sustainable future than the one he found in 1976 and supremely thankful, honored, and humbled by the presidency. In one 1976 campaign recording, Carter said that he wanted to be "tested in the most severe way possible," and he never once shied away from that bold commitment. Carter's doggedness explains his steadfast support for the treaty that ceded the Panama Canal back to the Panamanians; his controversial decision to pardon all Vietnam draft evaders (excluding, I have learned, those who renounced their U.S. citizenship) on his first full day in office; and signing of the Alaska Lands Act, which protected more land in one sweeping act, in terms of acreage, than any single federal action before or after it, in December 1980 as his administration drew to a close. His tenacity also explains why the "involuntary retirement," as Carter put it, that he received in 1980 did not stop him from the performing countless good deeds across the country and around the globe through his namesake Center.

Speaking of the Carter Center, the Carter Presidential Library and Museum and the Carter Center share the same grounds, the bulk of which is run and maintained by the latter. In fact, many Atlanta locals, and almost all of whom I have met, do not know about the Carter Museum. According to Joshua, the Carter Center steals away most of the attention because the former president would rather focus on continuing his life's work of "waging peace, fighting disease, [and] building hope" than resting on his laurels and praising his earlier accomplishments. If that perspective doesn't exemplify graciousness and servant leadership, I don't know what does! I hope all of us can remain as motivated and modest as our 95-year-old former president, the oldest and longest living of our chief executives.

Tomorrow, I have the tremendous opportunity to work with the Museum's collection's specialist as she continues to catalog the unbelievable plethora of holdings from Carter's life and administration. This weekend, I also hope to visit some of Atlanta local sights, including the Atlanta History Center and Fernbank Science Center, two venues that Joshua, Mary, and Maya have all stressed I go see at once! I will be sure to update you all about these clearly impressive destination spots, hopefully with a few pictures, and more about my work in the near future. Until then, thank you for visiting my blog and reading about my Atlanta adventures!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Welcome to my summer blog, and thank you for your visit!

Hello. My name is Jacob Doan, and I am a rising senior at Eureka College studying an English and secondary education double major and a history minor. This summer, I have the tremendous opportunity to intern in the education department of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. This experience, which will support my dream of serving Illinois as a high school English and history teacher, has been made possible by the generosity of Eureka College, specifically its Ronald W. Reagan Leadership Program, and the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum.

Be sure to check in periodically between June 3 and June 26 to learn more about this fascinating chance to see, experience, and teach history through the life and legacy of one of our greatest presidents.