Volunteer Spotlight: Elsie Voong

by Steven Dugan

Elsie and cousing at wedding
Elsie Voong with her cousin at a wedding.

West Covina resident Elsie Voong is this month’s star of the Staff Spotlight. Elsie joined the volunteer staff in late June of 2019 and immediately got her hands dirty, literally and figuratively, by helping with our new rose garden on the north side of the Workman House. Since then, she has worked the Twenties Festival, one of our Christmas events, our Valentine’s Day event, and has shadowed one of our children’s tours. Elsie has a very meaningful view on why museums are important. As she says so eloquently, “Museums are a holding place for the past. People learn from the past. With a plethora of people coming and going every opening and closing, people can connect with one another outside of normal circumstances.” Elsie also told us that even though the history of Southern California and especially the Homestead isn’t part of her cultural past, she respects and appreciates the stories we share with our visitors. While her day job as a student at California State University, Pomona takes up a lot of her time, she sees her volunteer experience here as an opportunity to know more people; and the ambiance here at the museum suits her just fine. We asked her to share a little bit more about herself and her future plans.

Why do you love history?

I love history because it is a story. There is never anything mundane happening, from any point since the conception of human consciousness to now. Every story is a story to tell.

What made you decide to volunteer at the museum?

Eventually, I want to work in the museum sector of history. I want to gain experience, both within life in general and to get to know for sure if I want to do this type of work in the future.

How did you fall into history?

During senior year, I developed an interest in politics with a schoolmate of mine. I wasn’t too shabby at history and literature to begin with, either. The combination of feeling like I was good at something and the interest that history incites is what made me fall into history.

What would your dream job be?

Ideally, a job equal parts on my feet and in my seat! But, for specifics: I want to work with restoring artifacts. Being able to restore something that had meaning at one point to the person, long gone, who owned it or shared it among their community—I want to restore dignity to these belongings the way they used to be seen.

Who is your favorite historical figure?

My favorite historical figure is Khutulun, the Mongol princess from the 13th century. She is strong, independent, and a woman of her word. Forgotten to history and buried away, this beloved princess and her story is akin to a historical drama, her story is one that I want to reflect in my person.

Do you enjoy visiting other museums or historic sites? What are some of your favorite sites to visit?

I do. I enjoy visiting the Autry Museum and Natural History Museum.

When you’re not giving your time at the Homestead, what are some of your other hobbies?

I enjoy creative writing and sleeping. I also enjoy organizing: my bullet journal-esque agenda, my calendar, my phone and my wall calendar. Things that make me feel at peace and lessen my stress, I like to do.

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