Before my internship with Ogallala Commons, I would have passed through a town like Nazareth without much thought other than perhaps, “How do people live here? It’s so small – there’s nothing here.” But there is something there, something deeply rooted and magnetic. As a visitor to Nazareth, I felt its pull only on a surface level, but I have gathered that lifetime residents carry that sensation in their very bones.
The work I have been doing with the Nazareth German Heritage Museum and the Holy Family Parish Archives has been to help those who would safeguard the history and heritage of Nazareth. There is so much worth safeguarding! Community stories are embedded in the items housed by the museum and in the minds of the Museum Committee Members. Familial ties and cultural identity call quietly from the names on cemetery stones, repeating from Nazareth’s earliest days to its most recent ones. And of course, German food and Nazareth’s basketball legacy are celebrated at gatherings that bring people from far and wide. The history and culture is so abundant in such a small town that I wonder if other rural communities have the same, or if Nazareth is uniquely rich. I will say that now, when I’m driving through tiny Texas communities, I feel more empathy and curiosity for those towns’ stories rather than simply writing them off as specs on a map.
Most of my training is in museum education, so I have been glad for the opportunity during this internship to learn more about collections and their care. The Nazareth German Heritage Museum holds some fascinating items, like an intricate, ancient, silk Tapestry and photos ranging from pioneer days to more recent decades. The museum building itself is a treasured artifact – it was used by Nazareth’s school system for classes, a lunchroom, and finally a band hall for a total of 71 years.
Though I have enjoyed this internship and I have grown so much, it has not all been easy. I have done my fair share of second guessing myself and my work. Having an occasionally hectic full-time job as well as doing this internship has also been challenging. But the people I have met throughout this experience are some of the most genuinely kind folks I have ever met, and overcoming the challenges has been rewarding. My ultimate hope is that the materials I have produced will prove useful over the course of the coming years, as ground is broken on the museum property and construction begins on the new building. I plan to try my best to return to Nazareth when it is completed to be able to see for myself a new page in the town’s history books that I, in a small way, helped to write.