It is hard to verbalise the last two months in a half hour catch-up on the phone with family and friends. Packed weekends exploring Chicago, meeting interesting people and working full time at Chicago Shakespeare Theater constitute a new world that I experienced, for the most part, on my own.
As with all travelling I have adopted a whole new frame of reference, which is exciting in itself, giving me something to go on about to my friends for the next few months. I am also moving forward with a new set of vital skills from the internship. It is easier to translate these new abilities to people at home, which is evidence for the value of the Global Challenge working experience. It has helped me contemplate a possible career option from a position of confidence and even slight expertise.
The majority of my work in the last weeks was spent wrapping up my independent Teacher Handbook project on Shakespeare’s Henry V. This put my writing and editing skills to the test, and I my knowledge of writing and editing was undoubtedly broadened by writing for a new audience and purpose. I had to unlock a Shakespeare play for students and teachers in an interactive but informative way. Some of the material I produced may even be linked to the Theater Programme for Lescombe’s Henry V this coming season. Creating freely available materials that will be used across the world has been a unique part of this internship; it was a responsibility that I rose to and enjoyed throughout.
The final weeks at work were also, importantly, spent celebrating. The entire CST staff had a boat party, which included psychics on the lower deck… The CST team toasted the new website – compared to a toast I attended in the first week for someone leaving the company, I realised how much I had been integrated into its workforce.
Finally, I met again with all of the amazing CPS students and teachers I had built relationships with in the first two weeks. I also got to spend more time with the education team who absolutely made my time in Chicago not only comfortable, but rewarding every day (you can see two of their happy, inspiring faces above). On my last day I was able to see how the workshops were going to develop as they entered the school year. It was another beginning of their potentially life-changing journeys with the theater – learning innovative teaching techniques, or preparing to go on stage in front of hundreds.
Next up is a University of Birmingham Cultural Internship at The Rep. Without this internship I would never have had the confidence to even apply for the Cultural Internship, and it certainly helped in the interview to be working at a theater at the time, speaking about what I was doing right there and then. But I believe the Chicago Shakespeare Theater Global Challenge not only has the potential to launch you into arts and culture and theater, but also into education or even academic publishing. It opened my eyes in more ways than one, even if I am struggling to keep them open now I am home and jetlagged.