Each month the Thinkery blog highlights one of our amazing volunteers and their fantastic work at the Thinkery. This month we interviewed Jorge, an AmeriCorp ACE (A Community for Education) volunteer. Jorge has helped with the outreach we did at the Farmers’ Markets, on our test days, and has worked on all kinds of materials and facilities prep projects. Thanks Jorge for all your great work!
How long have you been volunteering/interning here?
Approximately one month.
Where are you going to school (or graduated from) and what is your area of focus?
Florida State University – Bachelors in Anthropology
Why did you want to volunteer/intern at the Thinkery?
I’m currently a full-time bilingual literacy Americorps tutor at an elementary school in East Austin. The work is truly a dream come true, but the nature of the job requires a sort of rigorous academic professionalism – especially when knowing you’re working with a child on a one on one basis. The instructional style I employ with the students I tutor reflects my dedication to their advancement in literacy, so there’s never lots of room for play in my lessons. When looking for an after-work community partnership, I was hoping to find a place that would provide a balance that would allow me to work with youth, in a center of learning, but with that interactive tint of playfulness. After weeks of scoping around, I heard it through the grapevine that The Thinkery would be an ideal place to experience kids in a more playful and relaxed setting. To me, it appeared like The Thinkery would combine hands on learning and just ‘plain old’ fun – which, after familiarizing myself with the exhibits, seems like it really will.
What is exhibit/program of museum are you most excited about and why?
I’d definitely say that the “Let’s Grow” exhibit is the one I’m most looking forward to. I have worked in farmers markets before, and in several community gardens,
so I loooove that The Thinkery is highlighting this vital part of communities as one of their exhibits. Not only is it great to expose growing minds to all the types
of food items locally available, it’s also a good way to implant a positive and fun image of locally grown food in the minds of families and their children. I think it’s
smart and civically responsible of The Thinkery to have such an exhibit – especially with the epidemic rates of nutrition related ailments affecting our youth
today. It’s heartening knowing that at The Thinkery, kids will be exposed to a myriad of healthy options that may help steer them on a path towards a healthy
and prolonged life.
What has been your best moment at the museum?
Because the museum hasn’t opened yet, 90% of my interaction has been with fellow volunteers and the staff members of The Thinkery. Every time I’ve gone over to volunteer I’ve felt like the staff is so friendly yet really professional at their jobs. It’s really great coming in to volunteer because I always end up feeling like im helping people that are really qualified and seem to enjoy every aspect of their job; even if it’s a monotonous prep task. It feels like everyone just knows that the completion of every little project is crucial to a successful opening, so people are just happy to do them. Also, I imagine it helps that some of these little jobs involve bubble wrap and giant lego blocks.
What is the best story you have about working with our visitors?
While working at the interactive information tent at the farmers market, I got to meet some veteran Austin Children’s Museum patrons that were really excited to come check out the new museum. It was really fun getting to help them construct electrically powered robots that taught them how batteries and motors work. Seeing them construct their own toys and then getting so excited to see them work – it was kind of priceless.
How has your work here influenced your life?
It’s definitely gotten me interested in what’s happening in children’s museums nowadays. I never really thought about what was going on in them, even though I work with kids; it just never crossed my mind to go check one out. I’m definitely glad to see that at least in The Thinkery, the museum experience for kids is really just as fun as it will be instructing.
What is something in your life that that you LOVE?
I would say the school where I currently tutor at. It’s a small little school, so it’s kind of one big family. The staff is also so knowledgeable and caring about
their students, so it’s really reaffirming to know that the kids are in good hands and being taken care off educationally. Additionally, the team of tutors I work with are people that are really easy to get along with, so it’s never like I go into work feeling like “Oh, I may have to deal with this or that from x person”. This is great because it helps me be focused in what I need to be doing, without having to deal with anything that may detract from the job i’m trying to do. I always go to work content, and that’s something that I value and am thankful for.
What is your all-time favorite thing to do on your time off?
I have several favorite hobbies, but lately all I’ve been doing whenever I have some time to relax is watching tornado videos online. I’ve always wanted to be a tornado chaser – I used to watch the weather channel as a kid – and so whenever there was a tornado warning in Topeka, Kansas or whatever, I’d get all excited and track the storm in whatever shoddy online radar applications they had available in 1998. So since I got here, and Austin is almost-ish in tornado alley, I’ve been fantasizing about actually maybe getting to see one in person. I remember there was one weekend a couple of weeks ago where I did absolutely nothing but watch tornado videos from Friday evening all the way through Sunday. That weekend ruled