It’s a cloudy but pleasant day in Boston as I sit at Starbucks trying to decide the best way to spend my Saturday. I arrived this past Wednesday around noon and have since spent my time orienting myself to my new surroundings. It took me about 30 minutes to decide that I was going to like it here. As my cab driver took me to my homestay, and we passed all of the old buildings intermingled with urban life, I knew I would be enjoying my month here. Then, he dropped me off in Brighton where I met the family whom I am living with. Let me tell you, they are AWESOME! I was immediately given a tour of the neighborhood and welcomed right into their home. I even met one of their other boarders who is from Australia, getting her Masters in Theology at nearby Boston College, and is a music teacher. On top of that, the family I’m staying with is Irish, and we were able to connect talking about my trip to Northern Ireland. God is good.
On day 1, after my neighborhood tour, I took a very long nap. Waking up at 3:30am + Dramamine = 1 Sleepy Hope. Then, I set out to explore Brighton and get my T-pass. Day 2 brought more adventure. I decided I’m going to coin the term “intentional wandering” during this trip. For those of you who know me, you know that I have a horrible sense of direction (thank goodness for my iPhone). However, I decided to embrace this flaw. I took the 57 bus from Brighton to Kenmore Square and set off on foot. Knowing that I had no idea where anything is, I decided to walk until I found something of interest. Luckily, I stumbled upon the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston Public Library (I, of course, immediately got my library card), Berklee College of Music, the beautiful park (picture above), and many other cool places. My goal was to make it to the beach, but by the time I got to the park, I was worn out and decided to start on my way back.
Yesterday, day 3, I began researching! One word to describe the day: SUCCESS! For those of you who don’t know, my goal for this trip is to find first-hand accounts from people who visited the Centennial Exhibition. I am going to transcribe these letters/diaries and create podcasts to tell their stories. I began my morning yesterday by meeting my advisor at the Mass. Historical Society to get signed in and have a formal orientation to the archive. I requested my first material which is the journal of 16-year-old Frank Dudley Chase who visited the Exhibition in October of 1876. Talk about hitting the jackpot – This kid recorded everything! He described the weather, the exhibits, and even notated in the margins which buildings he visited on what day, which made the journal very easy to navigate. On top of that, his handwriting is impeccable! I lucked out and spent hours pouring over what he had to say. I can’t wait to go back Monday and continue learning about his experiences and attempting to understand his character.
Anyway, that’s all I have for now! I’m heading to the North End to walk down Freedom Trail and visit the Old North Church where the lanterns were hung to signal Paul Revere that the British were coming by sea. I’ll close with this last line from Chase’s diary that sums up why the Exhibition was such an important event in history:
“One great event distinguishes this year in my life, and that is my journey to the Centennial where I learnt more than I should have in many years of quiet life.”