Kourosh Alizadeh, 2017 Public Fellow

Philosophy PhD student Kourosh Alizadeh worked with the Santa Ana Public Libraries as part of the Humanities Out There Public Fellows program in 2017.

I interned with the Santa Ana Public Libraries, especially the Memories of Migration project. The project aims to document the lives of immigrants to Santa Ana through audio and video interviews. These interviews are conducted by youth in the community, which helps connect youth with migrants and vice versa, thus generating a more vibrant and connected community as a whole. As a Humanities PhD student and an immigrant myself, I felt I contributed most by helping to lead the group discussions, generate questions for our interviews, and being a knowledgeable resource for our youth volunteers. I also think that as an example of an immigrant pursuing higher education, I could in some small way be a role model for them.

This project's major contribution to my professional development was putting me in touch with some of the institutions in the area, specifically the library itself. I am strongly considering a career in libraries, and having more experience and professional contacts in a nearby library would help make that a possibility. The experience also familiarized me further with the budgeting and timing constraints of governmental organizations, and gave me a deeper insight into the everyday lives of people in non-academic career paths. One worry about such a career path is that it might not be as personally rewarding as academic research or teaching, and seeing how my co-workers at this position felt about their work helped me to gauge this better.

The Humanities Out There Public Fellows Program gives humanities graduate students the opportunity to intern with local cultural organizations. Public Fellows apply and expand their humanities research, writing and analytical capacities—skills developed in a PhD program—in a non-profit setting. The 2017 Public Fellows were supported by a grant from the Luce Foundation, as well as by donor and School of Humanities funds.