In the summer of 2013, we had 3 talented, driven, and energized college students volunteer their time as interns with our organization. I asked them to write a testimony of their experience. Here is what they had to say:
2013 Summer Intern
Just over three years ago, I walked across the stage on Harmon Field decked in my white cap and gown with so much drive and excitement to move forward that tears filled my eyes. I had no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be, but I was certain that staying in this small, sleepy town just was not for me. I had a craving to make the world a better place, and much like other young people, that place wasn’t the uneventful town I grew up in. I left for college, I spent a summer in Chicago for an internship that allowed me to travel across the U.S. and I lived curiously and spontaneously because that’s what 20somethings are “supposed” to do.
With the idea in mind that there was nothing to do in Greenville while I was growing up, I promised myself that I would never move back, whether it be for a job or to one day raise a family. Nope. Never. It’s funny how quickly plans can change though, as I’ve spent the summer living in Greenville and have loved every single second of the role I’ve played here.
While trying to think of the words to describe my experience with Main Street Greenville, this quote came to mind immediately. Kent Nerburn once shared a short story that quickly took off across the web. He ended it with this statement:
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments, but great moments often catch us unawarebeautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.Within this short time, I have become passionate about my hometown, its people and what we have built here. I’ve fallen in love with the simple, yet beautiful moments, traits and even the flaws that make us unique. The truth is, we have a town full of character and history that others try to create but often fall short of. I live with so much drive and passion because this town has shaped me into that kind of person. I value kindness and warmheartedness because I have been raised by parents, teachers and with friends who also value good character.
Often times, I think we just expect that good things happen out of thin air. In reality though, it is the people who care enough to try to make changes and improvements that make good things happen. Growing up, I looked past the good instead of trying to join those who were making a difference, but here I am just a few years later working beside people who want to create extraordinary events, programs and service projects that will ultimately unite this small, quaint town of ours. These are skills and that I can take anywhere into my future endeavors, but I only could have acquired them right here in Greenville, Ohio.
In less than a year, I’ll graduate once again with a drive and excitement to start something new. I don’t know where life will take me, but I can say I would not be discontent if life brought me back to the small town that I fell in love with this summer.
2013 Summer Intern
There are several reasons I decided to volunteer for Main Street Greenville this summer. I will start by explaining how I used to think of Greenville. When you have grown up in a small town for 18 years and it is all you have ever known, you crave to leave. You are young, you realize this world is bigger than Greenville and there is so much to discover. I used to simplify Greenville as, “a boring, uninteresting small town with nothing to do”, and I know I am not the only young person who has thought the same way. I didn't volunteer as much as I should have and I always had the mindset that it was Greenville's fault and if it were to become something wonderful, it would just magically happen.
Having those feelings and a hunger for culture, I chose to move to Chicago in 2009 to study photography in college. It is everything I imagined it would be and more; always things to do and many different people with different backgrounds. I learned a lot about the city life, how people work, and most importantly I learned a lot about myself and who I am. As I matured as a person and a photographer, I realized I gravitated towards humanism and connections in the world. Look back on my portfolio and you will mostly see images of people connecting with each other or connecting with their environment.
Photography allows you to see everything a little differently. Something magical happens when you realize the phenomenon of connections through the lens of your camera. I begin realizing things are not always as they appear to be, nothing is ever completely bad or good, and there is always something to learn from each connection. When something bad happens, it gives you an opportunity to learn how to make it better and when something good happens, you appreciate it even more and embrace it. When something good is happening, try not to take it for granted. I have grown to open my eyes wider and I strive to see; to not overlook and shrug it off as unimportant. I believe anything happening in this world is important, not only in the city.
I learned the fun things happening in Chicago were mostly made possible by the Chicago communities coming together to make them happen. Chicago (or any other larger city) isn't a place where fun things come out of thin air, they exist through hard work and effort of the people who live and work there. This truly made me want to be an active citizen. When I heard about Main Street Greenville and it's mission for our downtown, I figured I could become active in my hometown.
Within a week, I saw how much Main Street Greenville has changed our downtown and how much it contributes to community bonding and interest, which is everything I want to be apart of and everything I thought Greenville couldn't be. This has been an amazing opportunity to grow my photographic portfolio as well as give back to my hometown, which has shaped me as a person. Greenville deserves more credit than I have given it in the past. I am empathetic and mindful of people because I have been raised around the people of Greenville.
When I buy merchandise or pay for a service from a small business on Broadway, I know my money is going to good people who give back to the community or who support shopping local among their neighbors. Greenville has a unique, positive identity. I have seen first hand how small business owners and Main Street Greenville have come together to spark creative ideas to not only help their businesses but help develop the culture and identity of Downtown Greenville, Ohio.
The images I have captured show a close-knit community where fond memories are made, with each event making all of us closer. As a former cynical teenager of Greenville, I am now one of it's biggest cheerleaders. Greenville is amazing because we make it amazing, and I hope everyone (old & young) living in Greenville grows to realize - you gain as much from your community as you choose to give back to it.
2013 Summer Intern
Once I graduated high school, I moved to Muncie, Indiana to pursue photography. There’s honestly not a big difference between Muncie and Greenville - besides a mall and some restaurants. Muncie even has its own little downtown.
It’s funny though how much I actually started to appreciate home once I moved away from it, even being somewhere similar. Every time I come back I am overwhelmed with this sense of community and how adorable our downtown is. So many places get run down, but our community makes sure that our cute little downtown is an exception. Every time I bring some friends home with me from college they are just as amazed at how wonderful Greenville is.
I didn’t think I could appreciate my hometown any more than I already did, but then came Main Street Greenville. It’s amazing how much a community can do if everyone is passionate and determined. So much goes on behind the scenes to make our town what it is, and it warms my heart so much to see the amount of people who donate their time just to keep this place wonderful for generations to come.
I decided to participate with Main Street Greenville because I wanted to be a part of something doing wonderful things for my community. My favorite part of working with Main Street is letting my creative juices flow - to come up with, and promote fun activities to get people out and enjoying Greenville.
It’s almost like we’re trying to encourage people to fall in love with Greenville all over again or fall in love for the first time and I absolutely love that.