Published June 18, 2024

School’s out, daylight is stretching ’til late, and gardens are blooming: it must be summer!

  • building Virginia Folklife’s online presence
  • processing transcripts of past and current programming
  • supporting the transition of our yearly apprenticeship teams
  • creating an interactive tool for viewing an ongoing oral history project focused on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Let’s get to learning about these three emerging humanities professionals.

What is your educational background, and what are your interests outside of school?

Emma (left) looks through photos with Rose Chilwa, a local potter in Malawi, after Rose demonstrated how to make traditional clay pots while Emma documented the process in May 2022. Photo courtesy of Emma Bussard
Philip (bottom) posing for a picture with fellow members of The Virginia Gentlemen, a UVA a cappella group. Photo courtesy of Philip DiMeglio
Charlotte admiring art in the Met in New York City while on a trip with the Fralin Student Docents this past spring. Photo courtesy Charlotte Walden

What is one of your favorite places in Virginia? What makes it special?

View from the summit of Furnace Mountain in May. Photo by Emma Bussard
A snapshot of IX Art Park’s upside down figure on top of a building. Photo by Charlotte Walden

I especially love this area on Saturday mornings when the weekly farmer’s market is happening. It’s an incredible scene. To start, there are always a million dogs there, so that’s great in and of itself. But additionally, there are so many different foods and crafts for sale by a plethora of vendors. During my trips to this market, I’ve delighted in fantastic tacos, baked goods, baklava, and beyond. It’s an excellent place to get gifts from local artists, too. I’m excited to support local farms by buying fresh produce from the market this summer; I’ve been wanting to “chef it up” now that the semester is over and I have a bit more time to get in the kitchen! 

Describe a tradition you celebrated growing up that is still near and dear to your heart.

Philip (second from right) finishing dinner with his extended family in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Philip DiMeglio
Charlotte (middle) and loved ones enjoying “lime rickeys,” a classic Clam Fest refreshment of lime juice, simple syrup, and seltzer at the 2023 Clam Festival. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Walden

Why did you choose to intern with Virginia Folklife?

Emma: I wanted to work with Virginia Folklife this summer because I am eager to gain applied experience in the public folklore sector. I am passionate about folklife – the traditions and knowledge passed on across generations, constantly melding and molding to meet modern demands – and especially in the documentation and preservation of such practices and information.

Virginia Folklife provides a fantastic model and framework of this important work across the state, engaging with diverse and often marginalized communities in order to create equity in their collection of stories. I’m hoping that I will glean at least a fraction of their best practices through this summer internship and also be able to contribute my skills and passion to help the program meet their goals.

Philip: As I have learned about Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Folklife Program (VFP), I have realized that VFP represents and embodies the fact that we, as Virginians but really as humans, deeply value connections to place and to each other that we build through our traditions and our craft. In this intensely industrialized world that trends more digital by the day and isolates us further from our ancestors and communities, the slower pace and long-term view required for these kinds of practices is nothing short of radical, to say nothing of the profound connection and co-becoming that results when craftspeople learn and work together, as mentors or apprentices.

I wanted to work for VFP so that I could engage with and support Virginians, especially those steeped in cultural practices and who serve as stalwart defenders of the long process of place- and kin-making.

Charlotte: I have always been deeply interested in working closely with people and learning their stories. I’m typically the “nosy” one at family gatherings, the one who inquires about each and every story that is shared. Maybe that curiosity and interest are rooted in my past, as I grew up understanding the value of small-town tradition and community. I’m also curious and always strive to learn more about where I am in the world. This is why I chose to study anthropology, the study of humans, as well as history. At the end of the day, I want to be able to share the things I learn in this realm with others and to make sure stories are properly told. 

Finding out about the work that Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Folklife Project do has been so cool. Working with the Virginia Folklife Program has and will continue to allow me to dedicate time to the studies of my neighbors and to learn about new cultural practices and stories about which I am curious. Also, I love being able to help such a great team share our collective history in a palatable way with everyone, through the internet and beyond. The accessibility of this information is so important and is essential when it comes to teaching public history. 

Name one thing you are looking forward to about summer in Virginia.

Emma: My favorite thing about the summer months are the looooong sunshine-filled days that fade into colorful sunsets over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sight, like the one below taken on one of my evening jogs down the road, is pure magic.

Photo by Emma Bussard

Philip: While summer in Virginia is magical for many reasons, I am looking forward to (and already enjoying!) the abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits grown in the rich land of this state. Last summer, I worked on a small vegetable farm for a friend of mine who was starting year one of a CSA (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture—check out September Sun Produce).

Harvesting kale on a small vegetable farm in the Summer of 2023. Photo by Philip DiMeglio

There, I experienced intimacy with the land and its plants, animals, and other beings, far beyond anything I had ever experienced before. It made the already joyous season feel even more celebratory. This year, I am participating in the CSA and delighting in the (literal) fruits of my friends’ labor, from the funny-looking radishes that might not have made it onto the shelves of Kroger, to the countless bags of arugula from a crop that went wild during this wet and mild spring. I’m especially looking forward to tomatoes that will burst with flavor from their vines in July and to the sweetness exclusive to those raised by friends.

Charlotte: I am excited to have access to a car in Charlottesville this summer! I am a big wanderer and road-tripper (I made the 12-hour journey from Maine to Charlottesville at the start of the summer!), so having wheels will open a lot of doors to broad explorations of this city and beyond.

My goal is to have at least one solid day where I explore the mountains, maybe go antiquing, eat some spectacular food, and read a good book: all ingredients that contribute to a wonderful day!