Gwen Trice, director of Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center has returned from a trip to Washington D.C., where she fulfilled the poster presentation component of her training to be a certified interpreter through the National Association for Interpretation.
But that was the least of the work she did there.
“What we do continues to make connections, over and over again,” Trice said. “Each night of the conference there was a reception in a different major museum and another opportunity to network with people from across the nation. There were 551 attendees. Some of these people have been doing this work for years and years.”
The most important learning opportunity for Trice was instruction and experience in interpreting “difficult history.” The story of people of color in Oregon can be difficult history to tell –– particularly when one wants to share it in a way that honors the history of all Oregon’s communities, Trice said.
But she apparently did a good job on her first try. Once her presentation was completed, other presenters who wanted to know more about Maxville and talk about presenting difficult history surrounded Trice.
As a result of the experience and what she learned about how others made difficult cultural presentations, Trice decided to get even more training and is planning on attending the association’s conference Nov. 14-18 in Spokane as well.
“I’ll be going to the Native American presentations to hear how they are presenting difficult history,” Trice said. “I’ll hear about how visitors can communicate, participate and interact.”
Candy (nee Boswell) and David Casteal have invited Trice to stay with them for the conference. David Casteal has played “YORK” (the story of the black guide on the Voyage of Discovery) twice in Enterprise –– and wants to come again.
Originally, Trice had planned to go to the NIA presentation in Spokane rather than the D.C. conference due to a shortage of funds. But while traveling with the Smithsonian’s “A Place for All People” poster display, she met individuals involved in historical preservation at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton. Soon, those individuals had secured travel miles for the flight to D.C. and housing for nine days, including days before and after the event, at the historic Truman Hotel in D.C.
“The connections I made throughout this experience were amazing,” Trice said. “We’re getting to a place with the Interpretive Center where we need some national support. Our story is a national story. We’re loved and respected by local supporters, but we’re building a legacy project – building for the next generation.”
Trice also spent 13 hours in the new Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture, where Maxville is also featured, seeing how history and culture were presented there.
“It’s such a powerful American narrative through the African-American lens that I never had, ever,” Trice said.
Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center is located at 103 N. Main Street in Joseph.