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Taking a Risk on History

Written by Faith Mysliwiec

As a first year Nursing student with interests in medicine, biology, and healthcare, interning at a historical museum in Knoxville was the last thing I had planned for my college experience. Honestly, what was I thinking? What did history even have to do with my major? Was there anything I could learn by interning at a museum that I would actually be able to use in my future career? These were the questions I found myself asking as I sat in front of my computer in UT’s library, pondering what had possessed me to start filling out the Blount Mansion Internship Application in the first place. Truthfully, I enjoyed history. I may have even loved it, something I inherited from my history-buff father and his many battlefield and museum trips, but I wondered if this was really what I should be pursuing.

College had been a busy time for me so far. I had just finished my first semester at UTK and had already planned a busy second one for the spring. Free time had been few and far between and it did not look as though there was much chance of that changing anytime soon. On top of that, I already had a lot of other commitments on campus. Was this really worth the extra effort and the time commitment involved?
I still do not know exactly why I pushed the send button on that application. Maybe I felt like taking a risk. Perhaps my love of history overpowered me. No matter the reason, I am so grateful that I pressed send and began a journey that would change the way I view both myself and Knoxville forever.

When I started getting involved with Blount Mansion and the wonderful staff that run the place, I quickly began to realize that this internship would be nothing like I had expected. When I had applied, I thought I would show up once or twice a week, sit at a desk for three or four hours, maybe shred some papers or tidy up the visitor center, and then go home. So, you can imagine my surprise when the director asked me what I wanted to do and then told me that if I wanted to, I could even serve as a tour guide for the house! This was obviously going to be much more exciting than sitting at a desk.

This internship has also greatly changed my view of Knoxville. I am ashamed to admit that, though I have lived in this city for my entire life, I knew next to nothing about its history. However, my decision to intern at Blount Mansion forced me to learn about the founding of both Knoxville and Tennessee. After all, how can you be a tour guide for the house of William Blount, governor of the Southwest territory, signer of the Constitution, founder of Knoxville, and a man who was influential in the admission of Tennessee to the Union, if you do not know anything about what he has done?

On top of everything I have learned about the history of the “house with many eyes” and about William Blount himself, being an intern at Blount Mansion has also given me the opportunity to learn things about myself and what I am capable of. For instance, I never thought that I would be able to learn so much about history and remember enough of it to even consider trying to tell someone else about what I know. Through Blount Mansion, however, I have been given the opportunity to test myself and what I can do by trying my hand at a something I never thought possible.

I have had many experiences at Blount Mansion including transcribing a book, setting up for board meetings, helping clean one of the historical houses, and going on tours of the mansion itself. The people who run the mansion are some of the best people I could ever hope to work with and they have made sure that my internship experience has been wonderful. They put so much time and effort into making the Blount Mansion experience exciting for everyone who walks in the door. You cannot help but want to join in on the fun of being a part of the most vibrant museum I have ever seen. I know I couldn’t. At the end of the day, I can say to that girl sitting in the library wondering if this will be worth it in the end, it is one hundred percent worth the risk.

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