September 15, 2015 | #TYSPhilly Reflection: Melissa Alvarez

A Monument Lab participant. This summer, Philly teen Melissa Alvarez completed a summer internship with the organization. Source: Monument Lab
A Monument Lab participant. This summer, Philly teen Melissa Alvarez completed a summer internship with the organization. Source: Monument Lab

At MBK Philly, youth perspectives are front and center in our work. We believe in elevating the voices of the youth that we aim to serve. In the words of StoryCorps founder David Isay, “Being interviewed could mean so much to people, particularly those who had been told their stories didn’t matter.”

With that in mind, we’ve created the Tell Your Story Philly (#TYSPhilly) series as a space for local youth to share their stories and be heard. High school senior Melissa Alvarez reflects upon her summer internship in this month’s youth spotlight.

Hello my name is Melissa Alvarez, I am 17 (almost 18) years old, and I am now a senior at the Science Leadership Academy. Over the summer, I interned weekly throughout the month of July with Monument Lab Philadelphia.To give a brief overview of what Monument Lab is all about: between May 15th and June 7th of this year, the people of Monument Lab set up a station in center square of City Hall where they stood outside every day and took submissions from anyone who was curious. The form sheet posed the question, “What would be an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?” People could draw or write about their ideal monument, where they would like it to be, and why they chose what they did.

My job over the summer was to now help the curators of this project go through every 400(+) submission they received from people all around the city, analyze, sort, and then offer a youth perspective on what I saw. We met up in City Hall, the Art Museum, Haverford College, Paine’s Skate Park, somewhere new every week to discuss our ideas. I have to say that I did enjoy the experience because it was not the cookie cutter idea of what I thought an internship was (somewhere in an office, sorting files, etc.). I took a lot away from the experience not only artistically, but a newfound perspective on the people of Philadelphia. Some of us really do care about what we’d like to see in our city and I can appreciate that.

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