Closing Thoughts: Connections and Reconnections
We close with a final reflection initiated by Sofya and echoed by the other authors:
When thinking about long-term success and failure in regards to MTS, I think about the very nature of how I ended up co-authoring this article. I was a member of MTS for a little over a year 1 was one of the few kids who took the two-hour commute into Manhattan from Staten Island to volunteer my time. I became so dedicated to the group because I had finally found my oasis. At times it felt like I was living a double life. One, where I was working on drawing the same terrible fruit basket in my art high school art class, and the other where I was wearing the ‘Ask Me
About Art’ button at the Guggenheim Museum, or helping plan a huge party on the roof-deck of the New Museum. What I see as my success, was something seemingly mundane: A few months ago, 1 was quickly grabbing coffee on my way to go back to working on some of my final papers in graduate school, when I saw a curly-haired woman who I had last seen seven years ago. I was pretty sure I remembered her name, but asked, ‘Hey, are you Marit? I was a part of MTS ages ago as a teen! What are you doing here?’ We quickly reconnected, and began to talk about how small the world is, and how we both ended up at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. That turned into us reflecting on how we are now both adults, and that, hopefully, our work has continued on after MTS dissolved. We both hoped that there are more adult alumni who can remember the freedom, agency, and complete trust in our wacky-ness that a program like MTS gave to us as teenagers.
We are each in this story. The reciprocal relationships that emerged out of sharing challenging work in a collaborative way were what launched Museum Teen Summit. And above all else, these lasting relationships—honest, caring, respectful, dedicated, and critical—are what we hope this essay also reflects. This is, truly, what was the core of success in MTS and, we argue, in youth- led research and organizing. It’s about the transformative and enduring connections that we build, be it connections to a field, to a practical purpose or mission, to ourselves, or to each other. And inevitably, it’s also about the reconnections; how we continue to allow each other to grow as colleagues and people, to find ourselves now writing academic journal articles together, reminiscing about challenging conversations over milkshakes, while writing into the late hours on a shared Google doc and cups of coffee.
Cammarota, J., & Fine, M. (2008) Revolutionizing education: Youth participatory Action research in
Fox, M. (2015). Embodied methodologies, participation, and the art of research. Social arid Personality Psychology Compass, 9, 321-332.
Ginwright, S., & James, T. (2002). From assets to agents of change: Social justice, organizing, and youth development. New Directions for Youth Development, 96, 27-46. Museum Teen Summit. (2013) Teen program success—The big 10 list from Museum Teen Summit. American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Blog. Accessed January 16, 2019 at https://aaslh.org/ teen-program-success-the-big-lO-list-from-museum-teen-summit.
Soep, E. (2006). Youth mediate democracy. National Civic Review [Spring 2006], pp. 3440.