by Santos Mencio
This post is from our 2022 Spring Internship series.
This past semester I interned as the student lead and lead web designer as part of the Remembering Our Children German American Internment Legislative Campaign. It is dedicated to supporting the official recognition of the German Americans who were interned during the second world war by the United States Government. We are working to build a grassroots movement to support proposed legislation in the future. This involves collecting the stories of many former internees, as well as gaining media and political attention. There is a strong focus on community engagement – many students from St. Mary’s have created projects that are to be featured on the Remembering Our Children official website.
Acting as student lead, my main task was to coordinate the efforts of the various students who were seeking to participate. I needed to be aware of what they were working on and to filter through all of their work once it was submitted to act as quality control. The tasks of the students were assigned by Dr. Van Hoy my supervisor, but ultimately their work would come to me one way or another. As lead web designer I was tasked with creating a functional website that could meet any of the needs of the project. I worked to create a landing page, a page featuring the bill we would like to see proposed, a blog page featuring the stories of the internees and the work of the various students, as well as a calendar page, and a page featuring former internee Werner Ulrich’s work on the Crystal City Internment camp. There was also an emphasis on ensuring the public could contact us, as such I created a form for the general public to use and a form for organizations to use to help plan an event with them.
One of my greatest takeaways was learning the full extent of the German American internment. Often they are only mentioned in passing, but the history there is far more expansive and complex than one might think. They came from all over, and many were held after the war ended, or sent back to Germany even though they had no ties with their former homeland. I also experienced a great deal of personal growth working on the project. Dr. Van Hoy ensured I learned a great deal about interacting with both members of the media and political figures. Things that I know will undoubtedly be immensely useful for future public history projects. My technical skills have also naturally improved, creating the official website was no simple task, and I often had to come up with creative workarounds when dealing with technical issues.
You can learn about Remembering Our Children here.