We had to interview Sean before he graduates! Sean is a senior at UIC with a double major in history and philosophy. He has been working with us for nine months, and we have a lot of appreciation for his in-depthknowledge of labor history and his social and political activism. Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck, Sean!
What is it like to be a museum educator at the Hull-House Museum?
Being a museum educator is interesting because though you study the history of the Hull House, you find that when you’re engaging people about the issues, you end up learning more about the people who remain dedicated and interested to these still relevant topics. In that way the dialogue continues between those who visit the house and those who work here. This means this aspect of the Hull House remains alive and well.
Any memorable encounters with the public?
There are numerous encounters I will always remember, but what they all share in common is the special relation visitors express to the Hull House. From around the world, social workers visit the museum because they believe it’s important to see the beginnings of the work which inspired them to follow the paths they chose. This gives me a great appreciation for the for the work that I do, along with a deep sense of responsibility, because I believe it is my job to reinforce that drive and determination many of our visitors possess.
What is your favorite artifact?
My favorite artifact is Jane Addams’ FBI file. It shows that speaking one’s mind and following a moral imperative has always and will continue to be a subversive act. The point of the file and the display itself is not that people were mistaken to believe that Jane Addams was dangerous, but that sometimes doing the right thing will make you dangerous to some. And more importantly, this could be a good thing.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
When not at work, I’m mostly involved in student activism and organizing. I participate in a number of student boards on campus dedicated to advocating for student rights, specifically on the topics of recruitment and tuition. I also work with organizations in surrounding neighborhoods to lobby for the rights of undocumented students and those disproportionally impacted by the policies of neighboring universities.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
In the next decade I wish to establish myself in the practice of civil rights and labor law. I have a respect for the judicial system, and like any system it must not simply be followed but also used to set precedent. I also believe these two categories of law are deeply connected and that social change can be brought about in many locations, whether it be the classroom, the streets, or also the courtroom.