by Steven Dugan
This month’s Staff Spotlight is Sarah Markiewicz, who joined the volunteer staff in the late summer of last year. She is a student of history, but you’ll find that her recent involvement at the Museum has added another aspect to her love of history. Sarah lives in nearby Diamond Bar, and first visited the museum last summer. And like many of our volunteers, she was inspired to volunteer after that first visit, and we’re glad she did. We asked her to share a little bit about herself, a couple of her immediate and long-term goals, and her perspective about her experiences so far as a Homestead volunteer.
Tell us about your first visit to the Homestead. What do you remember?
My first visit to the Homestead was last summer. I joined a tour of La Casa Nueva first, and I remember being surprised by the polar bear rug! Right after, I took the tour through the Workman House. The stories of the Workman and Temple family members were very personal, in their successes and in their losses. Their history and that of the Homestead’s place within Greater Los Angeles was very intriguing. Visits to the Homestead since then have definitely helped to stir my interest in Angeleno history. It was at the end of my first visit that I picked up a brochure about volunteering.
What made you decide to volunteer at the Museum?
I have always enjoyed visiting historical sites and I thought it would be different and exciting to be able to volunteer at a museum, especially one that is close to where I’ve grown up. After meeting with everyone at the Homestead, I have been thrilled to participate in events where people can learn and have fun. Being a reserved person, I usually have been content in simply reading and writing, but volunteering here has been a valuable way to be more active in discovering Southern Californian history.
You are a student at UCLA. What is your major and what are your future plans?
This March I finished the last of my classes as a history major at UCLA. My plans at this point are rather uncertain, as I know many other people looking for work are also experiencing. I have always wanted to be a writer since I enjoy reading books about history and other exciting topics. That might not happen for some time, so in the near future I will be looking for opportunities and considering graduate school. I feel that I am not quite ready for the latter, though.
What have been your favorite events at the Museum so far?
The Flirting with History event this February was lovely. Even though it was a bit dreary outside that day, inside there were some beautiful stations for unique crafts. We also learned about the fascinating traditions of Leap Day, which was topical for this year. The Ticket to the Twenties festival was also a pleasure to be a part of as well. Overall, I think that every event has been great because everyone was so energized about engaging with history and with each other.
Do you enjoy visiting other museums or historic sites? What are some of your favorite sites to visit?
Traveling is a bit of an obsession for me, and visiting historical sites is always a highlight of visiting new places. Off the top of my head, when I went to England last summer I was thrilled to be able to visit Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, and the Tower of London since European history was one of my favorite classes in high school. I also valued my visit to the Hong Kong Museum of History, since I never knew much about that city’s eclectic past and culture. Here in California, living at UCLA was awesome because there are great art museums nearby like the Getty Center and the Broad.
When you’re not giving your time at the Homestead, what are some of your other hobbies?
If taking care of cats is a hobby, then that would be one of my favorite things to do. My family has one foster cat at the moment and we have had three foster kittens in the past few years. Playing with them and making sure they are happy and comfortable is fun. I also love watching and discussing movies.
How would you describe the Homestead Museum to friends and family?
The Homestead Museum is a historic site where a person can experience the atmosphere of the place where different generations of the Workman and Temple families lived in Southern California during the 1800s and 1900s. There are two houses, the Workman House and La Casa Nueva, which showcase the architecture and lifestyles of the mid-1800s and the 1920s, and docents guide guests through these houses and tell the stories of the many people who lived and worked there. It is also a phenomenal place to visit for holiday events, book club meetings, and riveting discussions on history.