‘Twas the night before Youth Summit…

… And I have just about put in a 12 hour work day. Oh, and it’s my birthday!

This past week has been crazy busy; I totaled my car, had my school laptop sent in for repairs and come back still not fixed, and started a lease on an apartment in Pennsylvania where I don’t even live yet — all while being in the final weeks of ETSS’s Summer Enrichment Camp and the final stages of planning and preparation for their Youth Summit. Mercury is quite literally in retrograde right now, and I feel it deeply.

Despite my personal life being a mess, I am starting to feel more than ever part of the ETSS family. I feel comfortable talking to people, sharing my opinion, asking questions, and taking the initiative to do certain tasks. This has led me to pick up many different side jobs throughout my fellowship such as helping manage the Youth Department interns, running the Summer Enrichment Camp’s overarching nutrition program, managing all purchases for the Youth Department, and undertaking some large scale organization projects.

I also feel like people at ETSS are warming up to me, too — Bire, one of the older women at the office, was deeply upset when she found out that I was only here until August 10, and she invited me back to work again next summer. Meberat, the secretary, has started to include me on her afternoon rounds when she serves coffee. I have even started to accumulate my own stashes and storage areas in the office where only I know where things are. (Various office employees having “stashes” of random supplies and materials is a thing at ETSS. Next week, once the Youth Summit is over, I plan to inventory and organize everything so it can be useful for others.)

I started this summer worrying about how I would fit in at an office run and led by people who on the outside are not like me. I asked myself, “Where is my place as a white United States citizen within this organization?” I constantly reflected on my intentions, my assumptions, my positionality, and I felt doubtful and fretful about my relative worth at ETSS. After working with and learning from others at ETSS, I have come to understand that ETSS works to build bridges and work collaboratively with all races, nationalities, and backgrounds like no other organization I have encountered before. At ETSS, if you are a kind person who works hard and is willing to learn, you will quickly become part of their family.

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