"Hello, my name is Jayanth, and welcome to the Massachusetts State House."
That's how all of my tours start. During this summer, I spent time as one of the volunteer tour guides at the Massachusetts State House. As it turns out, the State House is a pretty interesting building. It's over 200 years old, holds both the legislative and executive branches of our state government, and has a bunch of important artwork. These were just some of the facts that we tour guides need to know in order to be certified to give tours on a regular basis.
The tours last about 45 minutes each. I go over the basics of how the Massachusetts government works, talk about important figures in the past and current governments, interpret the multiple murals, and comment on the architecture. While this may seem quite boring at first, I've learned to put my own personal spin on the topics of the tour. Even though we have a basic script, I always try to bring in extra information relevant to the particular stop we are at, for example explaining former senate President William Bulger's relation to notorious mobster Whitey Bulger.
The tour groups are quite diverse and vary from hour to hour. I've given "private" tours to only one person, and have had to corral twenty person groups around the narrow corridors. I've told the stories of the sacred cod (the comical part of the tour) to school groups, activist organizations, and foreigners who can't even speak English.
No one tour is the same. Sometimes the Senate closes their chamber despite having no official business going on. We've had multiple protest groups come in, including an environmental group that sang outside the governor's office, closing it to my group. I even nearly ran into Governor Baker himself giving a press conference to a group of news reporters outside the House of Representatives (and yes, it was an accident). The work isn't flashy. I'm not on the front lines of legislative business like an intern. I don't get to brush shoulders with political royalty. Yet, there's something appealing about being a small part of our state government.