Charlene Zanoria speaks about her internship at Juneau Public Libraries and the project she organized, P.O.C. Palooza, on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. The event was held at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library last Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Charlene Zanoria speaks about her internship at Juneau Public Libraries and the project she organized, P.O.C. Palooza, on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. The event was held at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library last Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

This event celebrating People of Color was hosted by a student intern

Juneau library intern’s project celebrating different cultures

Charlene Zanoria used her summer internship to give under-represented cultures a moment in the spotlight.

Zanoria, a freshman at University of Alaska Southeast and graduate of Thunder Mountain High School, interned for Juneau Public Libraries this summer. For her connected learning project — an effort that combines interests, supportive relationships and learning — she came up with a celebration of people of color that featured music, dancing and food.

“I wanted to make an event that would include minorities that aren’t normally represented in the library,” Zanoria said in an interview. “The library is a place where everyone is allowed to go to, but there are specific minorities that don’t feel as welcome or don’t grow up being taken to the library, so they maybe find out about the services here on their own.”

[Loss of arts would hurt Alaska’s economy, said National Endowment for the Arts’ chair]

Zanoria’s internship was part of a national program funded by a competitive grant from the Public Library Association, said Amelia Jenkins, youth services staff for Juneau Public Libraries.

Zanoria, who is Filipina, said she hoped her event, P.O.C. Palooza, which was held Friday at the Mendenhall Valley library reminded people Juneau Public Libraries are for the entire community, and that includes people of color.

Jocelyn Miles sings during P.O.C. Palooza at the Mendenhall Valley library, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Capital City Weekly | Ben Hohenstatt)

Jocelyn Miles sings during P.O.C. Palooza at the Mendenhall Valley library, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Capital City Weekly | Ben Hohenstatt)

“I was thinking if I could make the library more openly inclusive of everyone, and make an event where everyone can celebrate themselves, that’s what I wanted to do with this event,” Zanoria said.

P.O.C. Palooza was Zanoria’s first-ever attempt at event planning. It featured songs from Hannah Adina, Jocelyn Miles, Luke Weld and performances from Missouri Smyth and students and the Filipino Community Dancers.

Hannah Adina and her daughter, Raven Kuhnert, 4, sing during P.O.C. Palooza at the Mendenhall Valley library, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Capital City Weekly | Ben Hohenstatt)

Hannah Adina and her daughter, Raven Kuhnert, 4, sing during P.O.C. Palooza at the Mendenhall Valley library, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Capital City Weekly | Ben Hohenstatt)

Smyth, who is from New Zealand, led students and the crowd through songs that incorporated Māori culture. The Māori are indigenous to New Zealand.

The Filipino dancers performed tinikling, a traditional Philippine folk dance, in which people beat bamboo poles at ankle level while dancers nimbly work their way through and around the poles.

“The goal and the hope is we re-invigorate these dances in the community,” said David Abad before performing.

David Abad and Krista Barril dance during during P.O.C. Palooza at the Mendenhall Valley library, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Capital City Weekly | Ben Hohenstatt)

David Abad and Krista Barril dance during during P.O.C. Palooza at the Mendenhall Valley library, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Capital City Weekly | Ben Hohenstatt)

The dance, which combines footwork that might be familiar to someone who has participated in agility ladder drills with the rhythm of double-Dutch jump rope, was a hit with the crowd. After the dancers performed, a handful of kids gave it a try.

“I was a little bit worried because it seems a little bit ambitious to make such a huge event, but you take it step by step and it starts to feel more realistic, more doable over time,” Zanoria said.

Youth services librarian MJ Grande and Jenkins said Zanoria’s project was ambitious, but both applauded the young woman’s initiative as well as her efforts throughout the internship.

Jenkins said working with Zanoria helped her rethink the role of a library in a community, and what it can be versus how it’s actually used by people.

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Grande praised Zanoria’s integrity, initiative and willingness to do whatever task came her way with thoughtfulness and thoroughness.

“She’s an honor to work with,” Grande said.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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