What it Was Like Working at the Ronald Reagan Library as a Liberal

I started going to the Ronald Reagan Library in the 5th grade when my class went on a field trip there and did a presidential simulation. Our goal was to aid the President, a classmate of mine, in how to deal with a rising issue under their presidency. We were broken up in sections, some of my classmates being part of the military, some being journalists, and some being in the Cabinet (where I was). It was an extremely fun experience and ever since I loved going there. My family even has a membership there, and we visit the guest exhibits whenever they pop up. 

The funniest part is that we are all liberal-minded people who consistently reject Republican ideas. Yet, the beauty of the library and its numerous pop-up exhibits drew us in.

So by the time I got to my senior year in high school, I knew I was going to major in history or political science. Therefore, I wanted an opportunity in my area that focused on these topics that I could participate in. So even as a liberal, I looked into working at the Ronald Reagan Library as a docent. It consisted of a 7-week training with one or two 3 hour sessions every week. I had to read 2 books on Ronald Reagan's presidency and Nancy Reagan's life, as well as read from our huge manual of facts, ranging from facts about the presidency to tidbits about Air Force One, as the actual plane is stationed in the library. 

Justin Trudeau giving a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library

After training, I was eventually able to start volunteering in the library as a docent. I was by far the youngest docent there by about 30 years, and it was clear that the people I was working with loved Ronald Reagan or at least respected him deeply. But even though I fundamentally disagreed with them politically, they were always very kind to me. Many of the other docents helped me with standing stations and encouraged me whenever I was doing my presentation in the replica of the Oval Office.

My experience at the Ronald Reagan library reminds me every day how, in this awfully divided political era, we can respect each other. I encountered many visitors in the library who wore MAGA hats, but I always greeted them with a smile and ensured their experience was just as great as everyone else's. 

A photo I took on my break at the Library

Don't get me wrong — I'm still politically active and fight against the ideas of the Trump administration and Republicanism in general, but sometimes fighting someone about politics is a failed endeavor from the start. Working at the library allowed me to step away from my political affiliation and learn about the other side. I feel as if most people are so stuck in their own political beliefs that looking at the other side of things is impossible. Being able to step away from my beliefs for a second allowed me to not only be respectful towards those who disagree with me, but to recognize their common humanity. We all have different answers to different problems, but as long as we all respect our common humanity, no matter who we may be or how we may differ, we can achieve great things.

 

Image Credits: Feature, Katie Mazzolini