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Cultural Curator Internship

China Folk House Retreat Cultural Curator Internship Program (Summer 2022)


The China Folk House Retreat (CFHR) is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering cultural and educational exchanges between the U.S. and China.  The CFHR project saved a traditional Tibetan farmhouse from the village of Cizhong, Yunnan Province, from dam construction on the headwaters of the Mekong River, first by documenting the house and its landscape, disassembling and moving the physical structures, and then reassembling the homestead along the Shenandoah River at the Friends Wilderness Center in Jefferson County, West Virginia.  The China Folk House Retreat is now being rebuilt as a “living museum”, a cultural exchange center, and a site for experiential learning and environmental stewardship.


Program Overview

The China Folk House was initially researched and moved from China in the summer of 2017.  After a year of planning and organizational partnerships CFHR began holding summer programs in 2019 for high school students to help in the reconstruction of the house.  The 2019 program raised the timber frame of the house; in 2020 we built the surrounding “hempcrete” walls; in 2021 we rebuilt the kitchen building frame and installed interior walls.  The Summer 2022 program will be devoted to building gardens—vegetable, ethnobotanical, landscape—and finishing the courtyard and walls using traditional techniques and patterns.  Students and community volunteers learn traditional building techniques through hands-on work, and they encounter the many cultures and folkways of Yunnan through the material culture inscribed in the house and its belonging.  CFHR Cultural Curator Interns will help rebuild the physical structures of the house and its surroundings and will work with our staff of experts to research and develop the site as an interactive “living museum” reflecting the folklife of the diverse cultures and ecosystems of northwest Yunnan. 


Overall Function

The CFHR Cultural Curator Intern (CCI) will work with CFHR staff to coordinate teams of high school students doing traditional (re)building tasks.  The CCI will also do research on the broader context of the building activities and the material culture of the house and its belongings.  CCI will then produce curated materials for CFHR museum displays—from brochures and didactic posters to web-based information—in partnership with CFHR staff and an expert in Tibetan material culture from the Smithsonian Folklife Center. 


Key Responsibilities

Tasks will include but are not limited to:

  • Supporting CFHR’s mission to provide experiential learning opportunities for high school students.  CCI will help coordinate and supervise students taking part in the program.

  • Participating in hands-on building projects: wood joinery and framing; masonry; hempcrete casting and lime render finishing.  No prior experience or skills are necessary.

  • Researching the traditional practices, material culture, and environmental sustainability underlying the physical structures and producing written and multimedia reports for museum displays and online exhibitions.  Some of this work may be completed off site.



  • Undergraduate studies or degree in a relevant field (Museum studies, East Asian studies,  Anthropology, History, or social science) or experience in doing independent research.

  • Ability to multi-task, prioritize, work collaboratively, and be flexible.

  • Demonstrated initiative and problem-solving skills.

  • Interest or experience in building trades is a plus, but not necessary!



The internship will primarily be onsite at the China Folk House Retreat in rural Harpers Ferry, WV.  Interns resident at CFHR must be vaccinated and follow CDC pandemic guidelines. Some work may be completed remotely, in consultation with the program supervisor.



Eight weeks (depending on candidate availability; specific dates negotiable) June 1 – August 1



Full-time: note that this is a full-time on-site resident program with the expectation that interns will participate in formal and informal program activities.



This internship covers all living expenses and provides a stipend, to be determined in consultation with each university’s policies. Students are encouraged to seek academic credit or funding through their college/university and CFHR will ensure that all paperwork needed to secure academic credit is completed.


Application Materials

Interested applicants should email a cover letter explaining their interest and experience, and current c.v. to: subject heading “Cultural Curator internship”


China Folk House Retreat is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant's qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.

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