Prague has centuries of unique history documented by its architecture, art, stories, and people. For Laura Stillwagon, a summer intern abroad studying library science, Prague is an archival heaven. Laura is currently working on a master's degree in Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina.
“Studying abroad was something I wanted to do,” Laura says. “I had always been a little bit scared in undergrad to go off and do it, but finally I was like ‘I’m gonna do it before I graduate.’”
Her home university offered their own study abroad options, but Laura wanted a more unique location that had the same academic opportunities but gave her more freedom to explore as much as she could. This would be Laura’s first time in Europe, and when she stumbled upon CEA Prague, she was intrigued by their internship program and the central location, giving her opportunities to learn and travel.
Laura interviewed and was matched with Post Bellum, a non-governmental nonprofit organization that collects and organizes historical material to share with and educate the public. Laura primarily edits English transcriptions and translations. The organization has “a digital archive of interviews of people who witnessed some of the events in the 20th century that centered around communism and some of the revolutions and the different victims, heavy-hitters, and players,” Laura says. “They’re trying to translate everything into English from Slovak and Czech to reach a wider audience.” Laura is constantly trying to correct errors in the translation while maintaining the material’s original meaning and intent.
Interning about 15 hours a week at Post Bellum has reinforced her career aspirations of working in media communications, maintaining a digital library or archive.
“I’m really interested in the digital world and in information,” Laura says. “It’s very interconnected and I need to make sure to know a little bit of everything so I can apply myself wherever.”
The work that she is doing now and what she hopes to do in the future is something that users often take for granted. People like digital archivists and librarians organize information and make it accessible and searchable for the general public. You can read a Wikipedia article or use a database for a research project in just a few clicks thanks to the work of digital archivists.
In the weeks she’s been in Prague, it’s become like a second home. “I think it’s really amazing. I didn’t think I would feel as comfortable in it as I do,” Laura says.