Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Personal Story

Why am I getting involved in this campaign and why should anyone else? This is the first main tier of Camp Obama, becoming a volunteer that invests in training and recruiting others. Being able to synthesize your reasons for getting involved from a gut level, usually consisting of a challenge or motivation, a decision being made to address said challenge or motivation, the results learned or achieved from that decision and the ultimate "moral" of the story. I am currently sitting in the central office wrapping up my volunteer hours for today and behind me is Camp Obama. I am on the fence a bit about going to this next leadership level, because it does require a lot of time commitment, and you really have to have your story straight. Not just your personal one, but also the scripts and teaching tools for recruiting others and convincing them to commit for the duration, follow-ups, strategy and brainstorming. I don't know that I have all of that within me, even though I would like to believe I have the capacity. I have to decide soon. It is exciting as it is to be involved in this process, but I have to admit I am selfishly motivated by boosting my resume. I have become a bit obsessed with this document of my post-academic accomplishments, scheming to find other ways to flesh it out and make it look shiny again. This job has gotten me so down at times, that I didn't even have the heart to look back at my work and academic history to compare it to where I landed three years ago.

I don't mean this to be a woe-is-me post, but actually a mental excercise to convince myself of my true value. I know it, it's within me, but lizard brain and romantic heart and frazzled stomach all try to pull me in different directions.

The bottom line is that my personal story comes from the exact frustration of not getting close enough to my academic focus and career goals after graduating with my Masters. Literally two months after graduating I was "downsized" with a severance package. Then I spent that summer and fall feeling like a loser and discourage from even pursuing anything else. I got my present job the following January, but I felt so far out into left field, and I didn't know how to turn myself around. Then 2010 brought the US Census project. That Spring and Summer I joined the forces canvassing East Harlem as an Enumerator. I tried really hard to get into a permanent position after that job ended. I did learn a lot about my neighbors and the state of people's lives. Undocumenteds living 13 in a two bedroom, all "cousins" of the head of household. Hispanics that insisted the Census questions had a racist bent for not considering them a race, while a light-skinned woman identifying as Puerto Rican checks off "black". America truly is great for giving voice to so many myriad identities, and still attempting to make sense of what that ultimately means for any future policy for the people.

This, and the one month I worked for a fundraising company that put us on the street for UNHCR and my subsequent crisis of faith in foreign aid, definitely prepared me for what I am doing now. Putting a literal ear to the ground of the constituents to find out what they care about. Reminding them that we are better off now than four years ago, and that the job for President Obama is not over, that it will take four more years and beyond to get us fully upright and dusted off from twelve years of backward policies and agendas.

And it's not for nothing, either, since I just recently have a lot more potential "food" on my plate, with the online Groupon deal I just "invested" in, I would soon be preparing  to take and intense online course and subsequent exam to get certified to teach English to foreigners. An accredited course from Cambridge University and Press, no less! I would literally be taking up an academic gauntlet thrown down by my uncles and father before me- a prized title from the UK itself. Dad has already suggested I get in touch with his old advisor at East Anglia University.

I am gearing up for the road ahead, riddled with rearranged schedules and long hours. And I will be asking for Sept 13th (Primary Election Day), November 5th and 6th off today. Just in case I do get that pollworker's position...

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