Summer Centered: Ethan Emmert '19 Reads a Room
The religion major is interning with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council through the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities’ Philly Partnerships program.
Thanks to the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities’ Philly Partnership Program, which pairs Haverford students with local arts and humanities organizations, Ethan Emmert ’19 has found summer plans that meet his desire to engage in the humanities.
As an intern at the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC), one of 56 humanities councils in the United States and its territories, the religion major is able to explore his interest in arts and culture.
"My Pennsylvania Humanities Council internship isn't directly related to religion,” he said, “but my liberal arts studies have been pretty firmly rooted in the humanities, taking classes not only in religion, but also in history, visual studies, and more. I also participate in the performing arts—[singing] a cappella with the Humtones and [performing] sketch comedy with Off the Spot—so I fit in well at an internship with an organization that endorses the use of the arts and humanities to effect positive change in civic engagement and education.”
As for why he chose PHC specifically, Emmert said he was drawn to the organization’s Teen Reading Lounge, a nontraditional book club program for teens ages 12–18 across Pennsylvania.
"I worked in a children's library for the last two summers, and I really want kids and teens to love reading,” said Emmert. “But I also want them to follow and pursue ideas that they're interested in, which is exactly what Teen Reading Lounge encourages— it's guided largely by the students, instead of a teacher telling them what books to read and what to talk about, and I think that's incredibly important.”
No two days on the job look alike for Emmert, as his time is divided between PHC’s Center City office, where he researches potential strategies for engaging participants in the Teen Reading Lounge, and at an outreach program called Chester Made in Chester, Pa., roughy 15 miles south of the city.
"Chester Made is an effort led by local artists and leaders to rewrite the narrative of Chester, recognizing the use of arts and culture as a tool to revitalize their community,” said Emmert. “There, my work in a normal day involves planning upcoming events, which include presentations from guest speakers and furniture building workshops in the Chester Made Makerspace.”
For Emmert, extending access to humanities programming in traditionally underserved areas such as Chester is what working at PHC is all about.
"The perception of an organization like this is tied to tired Shakespeare performances and symphonies,” he said. “Instead, they're doing really important work expanding the humanities past the groups that are typically interested in cultural events, instead listening for what real people in communities really want and trying to make a real impact.”
As he prepares to enter his senior year at Haverford in the fall, Emmert looks forward to applying the lessons he learns from his internship to the classroom and beyond. “I'm hoping to gain a better understanding of how to make positive change in real-life communities, which is something that's incredibly valuable. It would be an honor to work for an organization in the future that promotes important causes including education and civic engagement like PHC does.”