What is your background?
I was born and raised in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, a municipality located in the northern part of Puerto Rico, around 80 kilometers from San Juan, the capital. I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences and Anthropology from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. In 2015, I moved to Albany, NY, to begin my graduate studies in Anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the State University of New York at Albany. After finishing my Master’s degree, I moved in 2017 to New York City to begin my PhD in Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center. I have lived, worked, and moved around to many locations, working in a variety of jobs: as a TA, lecturer, Spanish tutor, and research assistant. I tell my friends working all those jobs has been very hard, but at the same time, it has created the opportunity for me to become a better steward of time.
Anthropology is an acquired passion – it gives me the tools and theoretical background to connect many things that I am curious about: people’s histories, culture, archives, material culture, and language. When I was a kid I loved reading newspapers, books, magazines, and listening to people talk about their past and present. These experiences made me passionate about what I attempt to do in Anthropology.
How did you learn about the intern program and why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
I have been following the Junior Internship Fellowship Program since I was an undergraduate student. I would always look at the call for applications every year and look at the project descriptions. It wasn’t until last year when I looked at the call for applications that I saw the project proposal “Latin American Food Studies” from the Science Reference Section in the Science, Technology & Business Division. That’s when I realized it was the perfect opportunity, not only to work on a topic that overlaps directly with my PhD research (coffee culture, barismo, and food culture in Puerto Rico), but to also create a resource on coffee and the region of Latin America & the Caribbean. Since coffee is a staple for millions of people, and Colombia and Brazil are two of the major producers of this commodity in the world, it was an opportunity to make it possible with this project.
How would you describe your internship?
The internship experience was quite interesting. Due to COVID the Junior Fellows Program was virtual. We had multiple workshops, and virtual meetings with colleagues and my supervisors. I was able to do extensive research in the Library online catalog and digital collections. One of the things I appreciated from this internship was the creative and scholarly liberty of the project – I was able to create a resource that aligns with my doctoral research: “Coffee in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Research Guide.” This project allowed me to create a resource that increases the discoverability of the Library’s Latin American and Caribbean collections and resources. It was also fun to recommend websites and blogs on food in the Caribbean and Latin America for the Library’s Food and Foodways Web Archive Collection.
What has amazed you the most about the Library?
The collections, colleagues, and the extensive and diverse training in different fields that the staff at the Library have. You can be in the same room with people who have studied Genetics, Chemistry, Anthropology, and Art History. This created an environment in which conversations would be interdisciplinary, and we could complement each other in different topics. The dedication and passion of the staff and the curation of the collections are the two aspects that amazed me the most.
What have you learned about the Library that you didn’t know before you started your internship?
One of my favorite resources available at the Library are the Geography and Map collections. You can find maps ranging from different historical periods, from various regions of the world, which were crafted for different purposes. You can find 16th century maps of Latin America and the Caribbean, to those that are from the 20th century produced by US government agencies, such as the Department of State or the FBI. Really amazing stuff!