Domenica Castillo was an intern at the Los Angeles
United Methodist Museum of Social Justice (MSJ) during the second year of the program, in summer 2016. She attended La Plaza United Methodist Church, where the museum is located, and was mentored by Pastor Vilma Cruz-Baez. As an intern, Domenica says that she "gained experience in the many facets of operating a museum including museum management, development, programming, and display techniques. The small and family-like atmosphere of the Museum of Social Justice allowed me to grow, participate, and contribute to the development of the museum."
Above, left to right: Daniel Ponce(high school student volunteer), Domenica Castillo (Urban Foundation and Museum Intern), Niki Heer (UCLA intern), Keith Rice (Head Curator, Research Historian & Board President), Lucy Hernandez (Head Curator & Archivist), Katie Osterkamp (UCLA intern), and Michelle Dragoo (Cal State LA graduate intern).
When asked to reflect on the nature of the internship in urban ministry, Domenica says "an urban ministry is about creating community. Working, living, and exploring downtown L.A. during my internship allowed me to soak up and participate in the rich and diverse communities of Los Angeles. My site supervisors taught me how important it is to the think about the community/audience when designing and developing an exhibition. I learned a lot about the social issues, movements, and issues that took place in La Plaza and the surrounding area. Everyone was welcoming, open, and gracious. The people at La Plaza showed me how a community comes together in support of one another in times of celebration and in times of struggle. I knew I would meet new people and build new relationships, but I did not know that I would automatically be taken into the fold and supported so quickly. I learned so much from their knowledge and friendship. The only challenge I faced throughout my internship was believing that I could complete the tasks assigned to me by my supervisors. However, the museum staff believed in my potential a lot more than I did, and I eventually started to see that I was capable!"
An important part of the internship is living in the Christian community with the group of interns at Orchard House, a property located near USC and owned by the West District of the United Methodist Church. What does living in Christian community mean? According to Domenica, it means "to live with others in grace and support. As urban interns, we lived together at the Orchard House, and I believe that we were able to do exactly that this summer. Even in times of stress and perhaps disagreement there was always a sincere and genuine intention to check-in, communicate and support one another in whatever way possible. Also, it was important in our community to do things together outside the required program, whether that be going to the movies, making dinner, game night, shopping, and eating out."
For Domenica, the highs of the internship were "working with board members, talking to visitors and learning from them, working with the volunteers, and learning how to develop and display museum exhibitions. Other highs were the urban interns, living in the Orchard house, and the new friendships we created. We all got along well and became a family. We joked and teased one another, as well as, supported and listened to one another. We learned to work through things and address concerns. I was lucky to have such great roommates. There weren't any lows. I only wish more people knew about the Museum of Social Justice!"
Since the internship ended, Domenica has been hired at the Museum of Social Justice to continue the great work she began. She is applying to graduate programs in art history.
Visit the Museum of Social Justice