per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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job satisfaction
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evcelt
I work at a small civic education not-for-profit in the DC suburbs. We bring thousands of high school and middle school kids in each year for a week-long intensive program- they visit important and historical sites; go to seminars given by experts in politics, foreign and domestic policy, and the like; meet their elected officials, and explore their new-found knowledge in workshops. We work their tails off, bless 'em- they have to be really motivated to attend. It's often a really transformative experience for them- we get letters every year from kids who have decided to go for a government job or run for office, or just alter their focus a bit, because of their time in DC with us. We have a fair number of legislators and other public servants as alumni- Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is just one.

It hasn't been an easy few years working here. The economic downturn started it, and then 9/11 hit us like a hammer. And then, in the next school year, just when we thought we could breathe a little easier, the sniper attacks began. interactivearts has ranted most eloquently about the irrational panic in the area over that matter... but I doubt he felt as viscerally angry about it as I did, as I watched our enrollments dwindle. Even after the suspects were caught, things were dicey around here, and we ended up making some serious cuts to survive- including mandatory furlough days for yours truly and everyone else here.

I love my job. I must, since I'm reasonably certain I could double my pay working at a for-profit company. But my hours are flexible, the environment is casual, I get boatloads of PTO, I have great people to work with and for. Still, I was getting discouraged... gods know I am grateful to actually have a job, but even that seemed up in the air for a while there.



The comments come from a student from the state of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. Please keep in mind as you read this that English is not her first language:

I came to Close Up not knowing what to expect. In fact I didn't even want to come on this trip. But the only thing or shall I say reason why I came to Close Up is because of a group of girls back home. Whoever is reading or going to read this are probably going to think that I must be stupid or something. These girls back home are the future of our islands, they are my sisters, and most especially they are my family. You see when I came here to America, I was so shocked the first day of Close Up back in D.C. because of the fact that the students or youths have the right to speak their ideas, thoughts, and whatever concerns them. You have to understand that in our islands it's a totally different place. Where I come from youths especially girls should never speak up at any meeting, simply cuz it's against our custom and the older people of the village believe we don't know anything about our society because we're still young. So this was what encouraged me to come to Close Up, to just prove some people wrong. You see in my high school you have to get picked to come to Close Up. And you have to get voted, with a lot of votes from the teachers. Well let's just say I got voted because I am a so-called a "motor mouth" in my high school, that the administration tries to keep shut but can't. So I am considered lucky. Well I didn't want to come but what happened a night back home change the way I viewed things. I asked some of my cousins (who were girls) what concerns them the most in our society. And their answer where everything. And then I asked what they wanted to become and where they are planning to attend college. And what shocked me was "Are you kidding? College?? I didn't know we can go to college." Well that night I went home and just cried myself to sleep. And that night I promised myself that I will come to Close Up and I will join other programs and do all that I can in my ability both physically and mentally to give the girls and children on my islands a chance to voice their concerns openly, because not many people have such opportunities as these that I am given...Close Up basically just opened my eyes to many possibilities, that I have never seen before. These whole two weeks or so have been the best! I enjoyed every single minute of it and I wish it could never end but eventually everything has an end. I came from my island with little motivation but as I am about to leave to head back home, my head is about to explode from everything that I have seen, experienced, and learned from it all here in the United States. I think that in order for our islands to give girls and youth a [chance] to voice their concerns, somebody has to eventually step up, and I just hope and pray that somebody is me. Anyways I think I've written enough for now but before I end this, I'd just like to take the opportunity to thank the whole Close Up organization from the coordinators to the PIs, Bus-drivers, nurses, night monitors and basically everyone who made this trip a very memorable one. Thank you all so much for taking us in and treating us island kids like your own for the past two weeks. I thank you all with all my heart. And to my PIs Jaime (back in DC) and Desiree thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak my concerns and for listening... I thank you so much for all you've done for me. And last but not least I thank God for giving me the chance to come here and go back home with so many valuable...Like I always say..."We came as many, but we leave as one!"

With much love...
God Bless...


Kid, stay this passionate and committed. I wish you all the success in the world. Kick butt and take names.

::sniff::

Oh, and we are doing better this year. Enrollments are up, and if we can do well this school year, next school year is Inauguration- always a popular time for our program. Fingers crossed, knock wood and all.

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Very cool. Very, very cool.

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