Nicholas (Nic) Hartmann
Director of Learning & Civic Engagement National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) Cedar Rapids, Iowa
What do you do on a day to day basis?
Every day is different! One day, I will take a group of second graders throughout our museum for their immigration studies; the next day, I will work with someone across the country on a curriculum project. But overall, I direct the education department of the NCSML, where we create curricula, learning experiences and public programs based around three topics related to Czech and Slovak culture: immigration, folklife and human rights. A lot of my work is dedicated to community and regional engagement, connecting the NCSML’s educational efforts to a variety of schools, universities and other organizations, such as refugee support groups, cultural institutions, and even folklife programs around the country.
What are the goals of your work?
Our museum’s goal is to promote “Czech life. Slovak life. American life.” The goals of my work involve working to promote and share Czech and Slovak culture within and outside of those communities and also sharing the Czech and Slovak stories in ways that promote self-reflection and increased cultural awareness.
How did folklore prepare you for your career?
Having completed the Public Folklore track at WKU, I’d say that my courses for that track were very helpful in guiding my understanding of how culture is presented, and represented, in the best way possible. I was hired in my position not because of having a museum background, but because of my experience as a public folklorist, and the MA program gave me the tools that I needed to work in other places and fields. To this day, the course that impacted my work the most was Folklore & Education, and the experiences that helped the most were my internship with Traditional Arts Indiana, as well as my GA position at the Glasgow regional campus. Those opportunities gave me the teaching, presentation and analytic skills that I needed to succeed as an educator.
If you could give one piece of advice to recent graduates/jobseekers?
What you do outside of class, such as a volunteer position, internship or part-time job, is just as impactful (if not more) than what you do on campus. Those experiences can make all the difference on the job search.
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