Travelling the North Country

by Oscar Castillo

2019

We are officially a little bit over half way through the internship program, and our work at the North Country Children’s Museum has become noticed. A few weeks ago we were interviewed by the Watertown Daily Times about our construction progress. I was fortunate enough to be featured in it. I met Susan Mende, a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times and was able to tell her that a children’s museum in the North Country is necessary in order to promote higher education. In addition, we were interviewed by a local radio station (99.3). Both interviews have allowed me to become somewhat known in the local area. For example, all the SLU PIC interns recently met with local politicians, including the mayor who recognized me from the newspaper article and said, “Hey, your face was in the newspaper this past weekend!” Experiences like these serve a valuable aspect to the internship as students get to network with local professionals but at the same time, local professionals learn about the internship program. 

Back in the NCCM office, things are looking great! Sharon and I are working on my grant to Clif Bar. In addition, we are travelling around the area to look for potential donors such as Frazer Motors and the St. Lawrence Federal Credit Union. Sharon takes me with her to meet with the local companies, and in every meeting I get to see that small towns like Canton and Ogdensburg have great potential of becoming homes to great businesses. For example, I have driven by Frazer Motors a lot of times not knowing what it was. When I walked into Frazer Motors, the building was full with cubicles, computers and tech professionals. I also learned that Frazer Motors is a new and upcoming organization, just like NCCM. After meeting with Frazer and the St. Lawrence Federal Credit Union, they decided to support us. I have watched Sharon sell her business, and I must say that it takes talent to sell an organization! “When you believe in a project and the purpose, the work behind it is all worth it” she always tells me.

We are also one summer event away from completing our summer Art Studio Exhibit. To recap, this summer’s art studio involves children printmaking and collage making. In the past weeks, we have travelled to Canton’s NYSARC and the Potsdam Summer Festival. Both events have helped me understand that a child’s creativity is underestimated. Besides noticing that children prefer painting over collage making, I have observed that parents don’t realize that their children are fully capable of creating a great work of art. It is not until children remove the paper from the plexiglas to reveal a beautiful work of art or the way they create another pattern from gluing different pieces of paper together that adults see the artistic potential.

Through our travelling Art Studio exhibit, I have travelled more through the North Country than I have in my two years at St. Lawrence. I have come to understand that the North Country is not only one group of people, but different communities spread all throughout.