I grew up watching a lot of classic movies. Especially classic American musicals like Oklahoma!, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, and, of course, The Unsinkable Molly Brown—one of my personal favorites. When I decided to attend college in Denver, the first place I had to visit was the Molly Brown House.
I still remember my first tour here. My mind was blown away at the life of the real Molly…excuse me… Margaret Brown. Even decades after her death, she inspired me. From her social to religious to political work I was blown away at what she accomplished in only 65 years of life. Surely, someone who was so full of life, compassion, courage and who could do so much for Denver, America, and even the world had to be preserved in some way. A heroine of social activism, strong willed philanthropist, a pure bred Renaissance woman. I felt compelled to contribute to preserving the memory of an underrated American figure.
Three years later I returned to Margaret’s home on a casual tour, when, again, I was inspired by her life and felt that desire to conserve her memory in whatever way I could. Before leaving that day, I asked about internship opportunities, and before I knew it they had taken me on.
Naturally I’d be nervous to intern in a place where you need to have your facts straight. And although the Molly Brown House is filled with information and historical details, the staff makes knowing the story here interesting and applicable to today’s world—which makes my job that much more enjoyable.
My title here is Education Intern, and at first I was not sure what that would entail. I mostly thought that that would mean I give house tours to kids on field trips or doing coffee runs. You know—the stereotypical intern stuff. Although that is one of the best parts of my job, that’s really only one small portion of it. Education here is so much more than a boring history lesson that only a handful of people find interesting. But I quickly learned that they take education to a whole new level here. Not only does my job mean I get to tell kids about the amazing and inspirational Margaret Brown, but I get to develop different programs (the one I’m currently working on is about Victorian Era Fashion), occasionally I get to host the “Mind Your Manners” etiquette tea, and I get to take programs out of the museum, into the classroom, and teach students about historical events or how historical structures get preserved.
Here, with our wide array of programs and events, it’s about teaching kids manners, it’s about showing them how a city is developed, it’s about showing them the world is a little bigger than geography class, it’s about a story of a life that helped change the world and made it a better place. Education here is not simply academic. It’s about showing students that there is a bigger purpose of education—to apply it to the world, to change the world. To know how others in the past struggle and succeeded so our lives could be better.
Margaret Brown used her education to change things, to help others, and to make the future a brighter. If you don’t know anything about her life, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. Margaret was born to a poor Irish immigrant family and she only received an eighth grade education. However, that was enough to instill a love of learning in her. After her husband JJ struck it rich in a gold mine in Leadville, CO, she now had the opportunity to expand her education. She went on to learn five other languages apart from English and eventually used that as a tool to help others. She also used her education to change society; she had a part in giving miners better working conditions, she contributed to animal rights, she helped change the court system so children could have fair trials, and she marched with women during the suffrage movement so women could have the right to vote. Here is a woman who did not underestimate the power of education.
Now, it’s my privilege to pick up the torch and change my little corner of the world simply by educating others. I do not just get to instruct them on the facts of the past, but I get to paint a picture of a life that utilized her education to revolutionize the world. I may not be anywhere near the capabilities and charisma of Margaret Brown, but I get the chance, as a simple intern in a small part of Denver, to educate the Margaret Browns of the next generation.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Written by Education Intern, Emma Verschueren