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Adam Gadie talks about his time as an intern in the Wilberforce Institute

We have welcomed fixed-term graduate interns into the Wilberforce Institute for a number of years now, but this year we thought it would be good if we asked them to write about their experiences. Adam Gadie completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Hull earlier this year, and applied to work at the Wilberforce Institute through our Internship Programme. Here he reflects on what he has done and how he feels this has helped him develop.

Adam Gadie Wilberforce Institute Intern

I finished my undergraduate degree in History in June, and was looking for work over the summer before taking up a position on the MA in Public History at the University of York. The internship offered by the Wilberforce Institute looked to be an interesting opportunity, and so it has been.

Interning at the Wilberforce Institute has involved me in the delivery of a number of heritage-related projects. As a result, my understanding of the heritage sector has grown, along with the skills that are required within it. This has included opportunities to be involved in creative endeavours with communities, organisations and the Institute itself and it has been pleasant to be able to sit in on meetings and participate in general discussions as to what is required in heritage projects.

Adam Gadie

Since my start date in August, I have been attached to a range of different projects. The most enjoyable thing about this is that each project has different requirements, allowing me to learn and build up a whole new portfolio of design and organisational skills. In my first project, working in coordination with the Twelve Tribes of Yorkshire, I was tasked with designing pull-up banners to present their work on ‘Hull’s African and Caribbean Maritime Stories’. The ability to create content for public consumption was something I had not done before and involved considering such factors as the quantity of text, the quality of pictures and making the design catchy.

I also had deep involvement in the development of the Institute’s Adinkra project. This project included the Adinkra Trail which launched on 30 August and finished on 15 September. 'Through collaboration with Glynis Neslen, we devised a seven-stop children’s trail. Here I designed handouts, signs and stickers for the trail so that it was approachable and interactive for families. Ten colourful sticker designs were produced with varied meanings to allow participants to select the most relatable cause to them. Moreover, the trail aimed to shine a light on Ghanaian culture, using the Adinkra symbols. In doing so, we made the trail spell ‘Sankofa’, the bird that learns from the past, and encourages us to ‘go back and get it’.

Adinkra Craft activity resize
Adinkra Craft Activity Freedom Festival 2023

At the same time, we hosted children’s workshop activities at the Institute on 2 and 3 September based on the Adinkra symbols, allowing the public to learn them by drawing, colouring and painting their own versions. The Adinkra project also included an exhibition within the Wilberforce Institute that focused on a contemporary Ghanaian artist, Owusu Ankomah, and his work utilising Adinkra symbols. Three panels were prepared for the exhibition, including a biography (of Owusu), an infographic panel on Adinkra symbols and a brief list showcasing existing exemplars of such symbols. The Adinkra project as a whole enhanced the way I thought about design when it came to a public approach.

Finally, I have been grateful to work on one further project - the ‘Taking the Knee’ exhibition. I assisted in the set-up of the exhibition on 6 September so that it was up and ready for the launch date. This included putting up panels for the exhibit. Furthermore, I developed a children’s activity sheet so that key points from the exhibition could also be understood by younger visitors. Questions were laid out surrounding the exhibit to help people grasp the wider context of the exhibition.

Taking the Knee exhibition
Taking the Knee exhibition

My internship has now ended, but it has provided me with a plethora of experience and new skills. All these will come into use as I continue my studies in Public History at York, but will also be valuable for my future employment, as I hope to find a full-time position in the heritage sector. Consequently, I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given at the Wilberforce Institute through the University of Hull Internship Programme. The chance to work with the public and be involved with a variety of projects has benefitted my understanding of heritage. It has built ideas which I did not have before.

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