Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Independence National Park- Week 1

Our first week at Independence National Park in Philadelphia has been nothing short of amazing. Sarah and I were both very excited to get started, but were not quite sure what to expect. However, our supervisor, Paula Rissel immediately helped us to feel right at home. She introduced us to dozens of people from all different divisions within the park, and everyone was extremely welcoming.

Our first few days were spent learning the organization and layout of the park. Located in downtown Philadelphia, Independence National Historical Park is not very large in size compared to other National Parks, however, it services thousands of visitors every day. As the week went on, we toured all of the buildings controlled by the park, and tried to soak up as much historical knowledge as possible. We were given guides from both the Law Enforcement side and the Historic Interpretation side, which gave us vastly different perspectives on the inner-workings as well as historical significance of the park.

Independence National Historical Park also has a close relationship with the National Constitution Center (which is on park land, but not run by the park), so in order to be able to aid visitors to the park, as well as brush up on our history, we were given the opportunity to tour the NCC and see all of the exhibits.

Sarah was pumped that she got to arm-wrestle Ben Franklin in Founders Hall here at the NCC

More recently, we have been working with the Interpretation and Visitor Resource department, which is essentially the front line of the operation here at Inde. Individuals in the Interpretation department serve as guides and information aids for all the visitors to the park. They are the ones responsible for leading tours through the various buildings, providing the history and explanations of the various exhibits and artifacts, as well as keeping general order in the occasionally hectic areas of the park.

We were even able to spend some time at the front desk at the Independence Visitor Center. Because of the historical significance of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, this park is one of the premier destinations for people visiting Philadelphia not just from across the country, but from around the world! Thousands of people walk through these doors every day, and for some, it is their first visit to site where the U.S. gained its independence, and for others, it is a refresher course from that field trip they took here in 5th grade.

The more seasoned staff gave us all the information we needed to know, and were extremely helpful when we were unsure of an answer. Sarah and I had a great time hearing all of the different accents throughout the day, and agreed that it was very rewarding being able to help people through the park.

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