Summer is wrapping up, but the adventure continues at Independence NHP. This month marks the beginning of my second year as an LHIP intern at the park, which is wild—I can’t believe I’ve been here an entire year. Time flies when you’re having fun (and/or incredibly busy).

The highlight of my summer was definitely Project Write, a two-week writing camp for local teenagers that the park hosts every year. Every day, our campers explore the power of language in sites like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell—aka, the place where arguments built a nation, as we like to say. It was my second year with the camp, which meant I knew exactly what to expect and how to handle it.

Lol not really. Although that was definitely my mindset as I walked in on the first day.

But group dynamics change everything, and the dynamics of this year were fairly different than last year. We had a much shyer group this year, which was exciting in some ways. As a former shy kid (and current shy adult), I have a soft spot and great respect for shy kids. But on the other hand, as the kid who adamantly refused to ever participate in class, even if it meant missing out or jeopardizing a grade, I was well aware that creating a sense of community within the group would be a challenge.

But the thing is that working with teenagers is always interesting. And when those teenagers also happen to be writers? It becomes a total adventure—a journey, in fact. Our group became progressively friendlier, sillier, and inclusive as the days went by, until they became a community of writers in the end.

The camp culminated with a public reading a short distance away from Independence Hall. As they read their work, we reminded our campers that they were following in the footsteps of historical figures like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass: people that stood in the shadow of Independence Hall to make a statement and effect change. And our campers didn’t disappoint. Teenage writers don’t shy away from honesty or vulnerability, and their work gave me all kinds of goosebumps.

Project Write was an awesome to start my second year because it reminded me of why I love doing this work, and of the park’s potential to interest visitors and resonate with them. I’m so excited to see what new adventures INDE will bring my way in the upcoming year.

 

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Written by Celeste Montaño
Celeste Montaño learned to speak English at age six by reading every picture book she found at the public library. She continued to nurture an enthusiasm for reading and writing in the years that followed, eventually double majoring in English and Spanish at UCLA and graduating in 2015 with cum laude honors. Having grown up in the San Diego-Tijuana region, Montaño has developed a passion for learning about border identities and politics. Going forward, she hopes to continue exploring how latinx identities vary across the U.S. and enter the field of translation.