Hi, I’m Camilla Sandoval and I am a first-generation college student and second-year graduate student on the Public History track. My academic career began at Montgomery College, where I earned an Associate’s degree in 2015. I then transferred to UMBC-Shady Grove and received a Bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Public History in 2017. Today, I’m working on my Master’s thesis in Historical Studies at UMBC. My research examines the representation of Latinxs on the National Register of Historic Places. I’m interested in understanding how historic sites can be inclusive of more diverse experiences in the stories they tell, and how public history can better represent the demographics of the United States.
This summer, I had an opportunity to apply my public history skills to an important project related to my interests. Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG), a local nonprofit, has been looking to find appropriate strategies to better engage with Latinxs who use Patapsco Valley State Park, and to address existing tensions and misunderstandings between Latinx and non-Latinx park users. I joined PHG to help them with their Latinx outreach.
First, I researched model outreach programs at other public parks and organizations that work with Latinx communities. I then created a toolkit on community outreach and engagement. The toolkit includes four major actions that cultural institutions need to take to improve their outreach and engagement with the Latinx community (or any other group of users). My goal for these projects was to show that a strong relationship required time, cultural understanding, and a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusivity. To this end, I wrote an action plan of steps I recommend PHG should take in the near and distant future. The steps range from researching new histories of interest to visitors’ diverse perspectives, to making sure an organization’s policies and practices do not reinforce prejudice and discrimination. I will present my action plan to the PHG board in October, at which point they will decide how to move forward.