Published August 1, 2023

The Institute for Public History offers meaningful, hands-on, and paid internships for students and recent graduates of the University of Virginia. The Virginia Folklife Program is lucky to host three students this summer: Anderson Moss, Kaity Wasinger, and Kate Wietor.

They’ll spend the summer working on a variety of projects to support Virginia Folklife, such as assessing materials in the program archives, transcribing oral histories for the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, and each producing an original piece for our online publication Sights & Sounds. Read on to learn more about these intrepid emerging professionals!

Anderson Moss. Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities

Anderson Moss

What’s your program of study and year? 

It’s weird to put it in years, but I suppose I’m a 10th-year student! I’m currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, where I study African American Religion in 20th-century African American Literature.  

Who are your influences?  

I come from a long line of Black educators. I grew up listening to stories about my grandfather’s work as a professor and as an education policy writer, and learning directly from my grandmother, a K-12 teacher with an incredible talent for storytelling. I spent countless hours reading encyclopedias that my grandfather left behind, filled with his marginalia and notes, and my grandmother told me countless stories of my family, of Black history/folklore, and of Greek and Roman myth and magic.  

I am also indebted to my mother’s sharp ears and eyes for a story or a good conversation; to her (and by extension, to me), there is never a boring person or place, just more opportunities to uncover the world. In that sense, my mother and I are adventurers who can turn a trip to the store into an epic.  

If you could not tell already, I take family influences very seriously! I know that without the unique blend of my family’s interests, desires, and artifacts, I would not be writing this “Meet the Staff” post.

Why Virginia Folklife? Why did you choose us to work for, and why do you think the work is important?

Folklife represents the sum of the stories, scenes, songs, and symbols of our lives. Folklife provides meaning to who we are as individuals and as diverse communities. To care about folklife means to participate in and care about the ways that we remember who we are and form the ways that we envision whom we want to be in the future.  

Folklife requires constant attention and participation, or else it is forgotten; in turn, the work done at Virginia Folklife is important because it recognizes the fragility of cultural memory. As someone who studies African American history and culture, I know just how fragile cultural memory can be and how important it is to be dutiful stewards of culture, from the most significant events to the intricate differences between two basket weaving styles—all of it is meaningful.

What’s one thing that’s bringing you joy at the moment?

The other day, I finally got my first bite of watermelon for the summer season. I’ve waited months to finally re-experience the rush of the crisp sweetness of a juicy cold slice of watermelon, and I’ll be savoring this joy until the next year’s first bite of the season.  

What’s one hidden gem of Virginia that you love?  

Blandy Experimental Farm. It’s a not-so-hidden gem since it’s the state arboretum, but please, go there and wander.

Kaity Wasinger

Kaity Wasinger. Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities

What’s your program of study and year? 

I graduated with a BA in American Studies and Art History from the University of Virginia a couple of months ago! 

Where do you consider home?  

I grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia where I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the beach, sand, and swamp that is coastal Virginia. I would consider that my home, but I have spent the last few years growing to love the mountains and everything that central Virginia has to offer.  

Why Virginia Folklife? Why did you choose us to work for, and why do you think the work is important?  

While “folklife” is not a distinctive department at UVA, my coursework in American Studies, art history, and public history at UVA looked very similar to the work being done here at Virginia Folklife. My interests have always been with the history of the public, in the “arts of everyday life,” rather than in the narratives of “great man’s history” that often dominate academic classrooms. That’s really what drew me into working with Virginia Folklife.  

Only in folklife can you focus on the stories of the cool, regular people of our world—the musicians, the hair stylists, the bakers, the craftsmen, artists of all kinds. Anyone and everyone can (and should) be involved in telling the story of Virginia’s history and culture, and that is what Virginia Folklife is here to do. By sharing these stories, we create a bigger picture of who a Virginian is and can be.  

What’s one thing that’s bringing you joy at the moment? 

The song “Another One Comes Around” by Deau Eyes, a.k.a. Richmond-based artist Ali Thibodeau. She played this song in a show last week at the Southern and I have not been able to get it out of my head since! I  would highly recommend playing it while driving around with your windows down.   

What’s one hidden gem of Virginia that you love?   

There is a gas station-based restaurant called Burrito Perdido in Chesapeake that (in my humble opinion) has the best California-style burrito in Virginia. If you are ever driving south on I-64 toward the Outer Banks, I highly recommend getting off in Chesapeake to get your hands on some locally-sourced gas station burritos.  

Kate Wietor. Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities

Kate Wietor

What’s your program of study and year? 

I’m enrolled in UVA’s Master of Architectural History program, where I’m also pursuing a Historic Preservation Certificate. I will be graduating in May 2024. 

Why Virginia Folklife? Why did you choose us to work for, and why do you think the work is important? 

There were so many great internship opportunities being offered this summer, it was hard to pick! Virginia Folklife quickly rose to the top of my list because of the program’s reach—I thought that being a Virginia Folklife intern would be a great opportunity to see what goes into cultural heritage work at a state-level organization.  

I spent a year living in Wheeling, West Virginia, as an AmeriCorps member with Wheeling Heritage. A large part of my work was writing public history content for their online magazine, Weelunk. Topics ranged from quirky historical events to architecture to city critters, but my most memorable pieces were ones that pertained to folklife. It was immensely rewarding to receive positive feedback from community members who were touched by something I had written.  It’s an honor and a privilege to help communities tell their stories, and it’s something I hope to do more of.  

What’s one thing that’s bringing you joy at the moment? 

I’m a simple woman: the Golden Nugget ice cream at Chaps. It’s butter pecan with caramel swirl… I recommend ponying up for a waffle cone. Perfection! 

What do you consider to be a hidden gem of Virginia?  

Easy answer: the Rockfish Gap scenic overlook. While it’s more of a “hidden in plain sight” gem, I’ve talked to plenty of people that don’t make a habit to stop when they’re going over the mountain. It’s a spectacular view any time of year.