A few days ago I ended one of the best experiences that I had during my first year as a Fulbright Student. I participated in the Millennial Trains Project (MTP), a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel across the United States while developing a project about how museums engage with their communities.
The experience was so amazing that it’s impossible not to talk about for hours, but if I had to describe the trip in one word it would be “inspirational,” Why did I choose that word? Well I think that it describes the atmosphere that surrounded me during the entire journey.
During the trip I had the chance to meet marvelous young researchers that had similar questions about our society. We realized that despite our different cultural backgrounds we have similar goals in topics related to education, politics, civil rights, and community engagement, among others. Hearing their stories and being able to witness throughout the duration of the journey how they developed their projects to solve those problems, inspired me.
During the trip we had sessions inside the train where we learned about each other’s life and projects and we helped each other solve the little problems we encountered while developing our project. That’s one of the greatest things of traveling in a small space with 25 young entrepreneurs and future leaders of their own communities; getting to know them well and carrying with you lessons learned from your interactions. The MTP team created an atmosphere in which we were able to feel comfortable sharing as much as possible. They also did a great job organizing meetings with selected leaders in the different cities we visited and even inside the train! We had the opportunity to meet several majors, public officers, entrepreneurs and artists. During our personal research time I was able to meet with museum directors, educators, volunteers, among others.
During my meetings in museums across the country, I was able to share experiences and learn about new projects that some museums are developing in order to engage more with their communities. During the past few years museums have realized they need to create more connections with the public not only through creating interesting and educational public programs, but also through co-curating activities and exhibitions with the communities. That shows how museums are helping to empower communities to tell their stories. Those examples inspired me to develop similar programs once I return to my country in order to open museums to everyone and to transform them into a place to learn, explore and share with others.
During the trip, all the travelers – including the MTP team – created an amazing community with a strong link that’s going to be hard to break. In part, it is very similar to our Fulbright community; we know we will keep in touch to continue our projects and also we will keep learning about each other’s cities/countries. The last day of our journey was a little bittersweet. We knew we were going back home to our respective cities but at the same time, we knew we will continue working in those amazing projects that we started together. That is why as a community and friends we said to each other “Until we meet again,” knowing that our paths will cross again soon for new exciting and amazing adventures.