Held at the Doheny Library at the University of Southern California (USC) campus, this building constructed in the 1930’s served as a beautiful host in which institutions, museums, historical societies, and so many collectors across Southern California could meet and celebrate the unique collections that tell the story of the Greater Los Angeles region.
As our contribution, we chose to highlight two unique collections from the UC Irvine Special Collections & Archives.
From our Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive (OC & SEAA) Center, we shared photos and documents to represent the large number of refugees and immigrants arriving in the United States, and especially California, from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam Conflict in 1975.
From our University Archives, we shared how Orange County and the City of Irvine came to grow and develop, from family ranch lands to a thriving county of diversity and activity.
This opportunity to share materials from our collections was entirely powered through the contributions of our interns. This year, we had six interns from an undergraduate History Internship program (History 197) choose materials to highlight, as well as assist in the outreach opportunity.
Here, one of our interns, Charles, provides a reflection on his experience at the Archives Bazaar:
As I arrived at our table, I had an opportunity to see a slideshow I had made for the Archives Bazaar. The slideshow included photographs of UC Irvine and Orange County. I also walked around the Doheny Library to see the archives and collections that a variety of museums, libraries, and universities offered. One of the most interesting tables I came across was the Wende Museum, which houses collections, archives, and materials from the Cold War. I also saw a telephone made from East Germany, a small brick from the Berlin Wall, as well as two small statues of Vladimir Lenin. Besides observing these collections, I couldn’t help but taking some free pins, magnets, postcards from other panels offered as they looked too good to pass by.
Helping out at the table was a great experience for me. I was able to meet many UCI alumni who I didn’t really expect and was able to have conversations with them and listen to their stories about their lives as UCI students. I also met an older couple who absolutely loved our slideshow. As they watched the slides, they shared they used to hang out at certain areas of Newport or UC Irvine when they were my age. By listening to stories shared by our visitors, I knew the effort I put in to create a slideshow was definitely worth it.
Overall, the Archives Bazaar felt both long and short. It felt long because I was present for the majority of the event on a Saturday. But it felt short because I was able to interact with so many people who were visiting our table, and had the chance to meet other people as I visited other tables at the event. It helped me recognize my strengths and weaknesses as I tried to identify my career route. Through this outreach opportunity, I was able to see how I felt comfortable as an active participant in outreach events. After learning so much from the Archives Bazaar, it makes me want to go back again for next year.
Karina also shares on her adventure at the Archives Bazaar:
We entered the USC library, immediately we see people already inside walking around getting their stands ready. The vibe inside was very energetic and exciting. I did not know what to expect from this experience, but it is something I have been looking forward to since I started the Internship. The library itself was beautiful, the architecture was old which made it look classy and elegant. We went up to the second floor and placed all our stuff on the table, I was nervous but thrilled to be at the Archive Bazaar. As soon as we sat down people slowly started coming to our booth to check out what we had and to ask questions. I was in charge of the Southeastern Asian Archive portion. I felt prepared, but at the same time scared that someone would ask me questions about the OC&SEAA that I would not be able to answer.
A group of students approached me, they stopped for a while to look at the images that we had distributed throughout the table. They started asking questions about what was on the table. I was confidently able to answer them and give them information about the boat people coming out of Vietnam and the suffering they had to go through. They looked interested in every word I had to say, they asked more and more questions about what was happening during that time. I was so excited that they cared and that they found the information I was giving them indulging. I felt proud of myself and realized at that moment that I actually learned a lot only with a few weeks working with Thuy Vo Dang, I did not realize it before but I felt accomplished and proud. I actually learned history about our school, about the refugees who were normal citizens living in Vietnam, things we do not learn in school. Learning about it was actually entertaining because I was able to look through old archives; letters, images and other information that came from the people that were there during the war. I was even able to witness Thuy talking to an important person who has donated so many things to the UCI archives about the students of UCI working with refugees during the Vietnamese war. These experiences have really made me more knowledgeable and influenced me on what I want in the future for myself.
I then decided to walk around the convention to see what other stands were there and to see what valuable information they had. As I looked around, I found so many interesting stands; some stands were about films, old houses that have important history to them, cities, there was even a booth about match boxes. I talked to the man that collected the match boxes, I founded it so enticing that someone is able to collect something so simple but it still carries so much meaning to so many. It is amazing how he was able to share this hobby with so many people by coming to the convention. I kept walking around taking in all the stands and the friendliness of everyone, but then I found an important stand for me. San Fernando Valley, which is my hometown, the place I grew up. I was surprised that we had our own Archive. I got excited and immediately went to talk to them. I was so happy that my valley had its own place to collect important historical information, something that I did not know that we had and that maybe many people from my area do not know exists. It was awesome being able to talk to the people working for it and to learn a lot of new information about our own place.
Many different people came to check out our booth some were high school students, USC students, adults, and even students who previously went to UCI. It was so astonishing seeing these students who still felt proud. I remember a girl approached me telling me she worked in the Archives in the early 2000’s. I saw how proud she was that UCI Archives were growing more and more day by day. It is incredible seeing these students proud of their school. Seeing this makes me feel that we are doing marvelous things here at UCI.
The whole experience itself was great, I learned a lot from other places and a lot from myself as well. I realized that I truly would love to work in Archives one day because being around these people was such an incredible thing. Also, being able to learn something new about someone’s history will be a dream job to have one day.
Thank you to our Fall 2015 interns for sharing your thoughtful reflections on your experience at the Archives Bazaar!