A Professional Living With Parents

When I attended the Fair Trade Campaigns 2018 National Conference in Washington D.C. in March, I was thrilled to meet Ben Conard, a fellow fair trade advocate, whose Tedx Talk had given me inspiration in leading the Fair Trade Campaign at the University of Dayton. At the time I watched the video, Ben had already graduated from university, was participating in a business program in Germany, and had started his own fair trade chocolate company. Talk about an impressive start to post-grad life! Upon finally seeing him in person at the conference, I felt star-struck.

The last day of the conference I got to talk with Ben, hoping to gain some insights. As we shared about our experiences, Ben affirmed my own post-grad plan – doing a summer fellowship and living with my parents. Yes. The well-traveled, award-winning entrepreneur assured me it was more than acceptable to save money, live at home, and take my time to figure out my next step. He told me it was a good approach.

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Meeting Ben Conard at the Fair Trade Campaigns 2018 National Conference

Transitioning from College Graduate to Working Professional

Three weeks in to the Fellowship, and I knew it had been a great choice for me! I have been gaining professional experience in the nonprofit sector, contributing to work that benefits fellow Ohioans, and connecting with and learning from others in my hometown area. Those three aspects were each goals I had for my summer after graduating from college. Even so, I have struggled to meet some of my other goals.

In addition to the Fellowship program, I wanted to be in the Columbus area to spend time with my family and friends from home since I had not often been in town the past few years. I also wanted to dedicate time to self-care, something I largely over-looked while filling my schedule with extracurriculars at Dayton. Perhaps most importantly, I appreciated that having plans until August gave me more time to make a decision about my future. Even so, at the end of June, I had an imbalance in these areas.

As I reflected on my first few weeks, I wondered where my time outside the Fellowship had gone. I had expected my time to be abundant compared to college. Unlike the varied daily schedules of class, work, and activities at school, I would have a set routine thanks to work, full evenings without homework, and I would be away from the constant attraction of opportunities and events to attend on campus. The first few weeks I indeed worked the same hours every day and had my evenings open, but the length of the evenings felt shorter than I anticipated, and I quickly filled them with one plan after another. Without considering the impact it would have, I had already scheduled most of my weekends as well, leaving little time to rest or decide on my life after the Fellowship. Even time with family was becoming more of an afterthought.

By week 3, I had taken a step back again and kept my weeknights more open. That Thursday evening, when what I wanted most was to go bowling by myself as a form of release, I realized I needed a different approach to the summer. While bowling alone was satisfying and an activity I would happily do again, at most it could amount to a hobby, not a step toward my longer-term goals. I was reminded that despite being back in a familiar environment, I was a much different person in a much different situation in life, yet I had been acting without a clear sense of direction. I needed a plan to follow.

Upon reflection, Ben was absolutely right about the benefits of living with my parents. I still have a number of the privileges and comforts of home and a great support system while I am figuring out life after college, but I largely had been taking that for granted and acting like a bit of an adult-child. This summer was never intended to be time to kill; it was meant to be a period of transition from one stage to another.

I must have missed an inherent part of Ben’s encouragement about my track for the summer. Living with parents is a great option after college as long one treats it right, taking full advantage of opportunities to build connections, develop habits for future success, and explore career possibilities. That’s why when I recommend the idea to others, I will be sure to say that being a professional living with parents is a great choice. Being an adult-child living with parents could be an alternative path if one wants, but that is not my goal, and I cannot let it become an end in itself.

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Week 7: There is never enough iced coffee.

This week at Equality Ohio, I’ve been finishing up LGBTQ+ sensitivity training that can be used for shelters and drop-in centers. Moving onto other tasks, I’ve been making myself available to learn all that I can while I’m here. As a non-profit nerd, I was able to attend a training on how to bulk upload data into Every Action which is a non-profit CRM (customer relationship management) platform. A huge shout-out to my fellow intern pal, Liz, who put it all together for us. If you have ever signed in support of a bill, an organization or just a mailing list then you very well may be in this system. It is the most effective way for non-profits to keep track of voters, supporters, and donors.

If I learned anything from data entry, it is that people have terrible handwriting. If you have ever scribbled your name or email on a sign-up sheet, just know you have caused someone stress. Your support is important to non-profit organizations – so make sure they can read that support! This really echoes the rhetoric that was used in the 2016 election for voter mobilization. People too often think that their voice is not heard amidst the crowd but when I’m sitting here at my desk entering signatures, that is the only voice that I hear. There is a point to all that we do as voters, organizers and citizens and if I could spend the rest of my life working to tell people why their voice matters, I’d do just that.

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In the office with Beth, our wonderful legal fellow (and my new best friend).

My current work with Equality Ohio has me thinking more about the 2018 elections. Equality Ohio does not specifically endorse candidates but it also seems that LGBTQ+ rights are not at the forefront of current politicians minds. Ohio still does not have a statewide anti-discrimination law, making it perfectly legal for someone to be fired on the basis of their gender identity of sexual orientation. Several places in Ohio do have these protections but that only makes up about twenty-one percent of the state. I wonder if those casting a vote this election season will understand the weight it holds, the effect it has on my life, and how it will affect the future of so many.

There just really isn’t enough iced coffee for all of this.

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Liberte, Egalite, Mobility

Mobility is a strange thing. I consider moving one of my favorite hobbies. Dancing, itching, biking, shifting in my seat. I feel in control. I have the luxury of mobility because I was born within the Western womb. My passport claims it so.

This past week I have been thinking about the realities of immigrants. We are in an alarming point in history in which people are being separated by borders and at borders. This has always been a part of our history, but complicity has never been so visible and shocking to neoliberal western eyes. It makes me think of my own mobility and how I flash my driver’s license between state lines or wave my US passport to skip the heavy lines of immigration that are labeled “NON-US CITIZENS.” Borders are physical acts against mobility. Yet, they have been congealed in nationalist rhetoric and today many of us can’t imagine a world without borders to call our own. They offer a sense of identity but at what cost?

Mobility is subject to power. I think about the foundations of our own system based on the capitalist nation state. If we are to be critical about how mobility is constructed, it’s important to understand who is controlling what. Capital itself is inherently dynamic and requires movement. It is built on this and feeds off of never-ending growth. Yet labor is subject to capital rather than the other way around. We are at the mercy of mobility of capital.

I feel very disillusioned by what mobility has to offer today. Our clients at MFS are some of the most resilient folks I am coming to know, yet many are tied to single A4 sheets that outline their limits of mobility. This week I’m left thinking how we can reimagine what mobility looks like.

Re: This is a great paper I’ve been thinking a lot about. Discusses Europe, Modernity, and Eurocentrism (i.e. conceptions of modernity, othering, and how borders were first imagined).  Shouts out Enrique Dussel. http://www.unc.edu/~aescobar/wan/wandussel.pdf

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Week 6 at the BGCC

This past week I invited to support the youth employment program in providing professional development to the teens in the program.  In the program, there are about 60 teens employed.  They have jobs all over Columbus; for many of them this is their first job.  What the BGCC attempts to do is not only provide the teens opportunities to save money, but also provide them with the soft skills to be successful in life.  This brings us to the topic of the professional development session I helped present— resumes and interviews.

Interview and resume skills are two skills that youth will need throughout their lives.  We spoke about the importance of respect, eye-contact, confidence, and friendliness.  I did a mock interview with another facilitator, and then we had the teens conduct mock interviews in groups.

If I were to design this PD (I was just helping out), I would have included a group conversation about discriminatory employment practices.  I did speak with a couple students individually.  As Black people, some employers won’t let us get away with actions our white counterparts can get a pass on.  Although hiring discrimination is not legal, this does not stop de jure discrimination.  For example, in a recent study white potential employees got callbacks from employees an astounding average rate of 36% more than Black potential employees (Quillian et al., 2017).  Given this reality, I told the individual students, “In our capitalistic society we are measured by how much money we make.  Those who do not have a job are considered lesser by society.  However, in order to get a job, we have to “play the game.”  Meaning do what is necessary so we can further our goals and support our families.”  I continued, “In playing the games of society, do not lose sight of who you are and continuously strive to change this system.”  This touches on the concept of “double consciousness.”  Black folk are consistently finding themselves in positions where their identities are divided between what society expects and our  identity as Black people.

Although I wasn’t able to have this conversation with the whole group, I thought the students I did speak with were engaged in the conversation.

References:

Lincoln Quillian, Devah Pager, Ole Hexel, and Arnfinn H. Midtbøen (2017) Meta-analysis of field experiments shows no change in racial discrimination in hiring over time PNAS. 114 (41).

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Meet Permit Patty’s sister…

…her name is Corn Hole Carol.

On Friday, I spent the day as a chaperone for ETSS summer camp sites that went to play at Bicentennial Park and the Columbus Commons. At Bicentennial Park, the group of students I was with were all smiles, as they love water games and playing. Many camp staff who work with students from Wedgewood Apartments — arguably ETSS’s most high need camp site — were all smiles, too, with many staff commenting that seeing the kids they have been working with so happy made their hard work feel worth it.

Cut to a phone call we receive from ETSS’s main office. A (white) woman had called our office to complain about our children who were playing at another downtown attraction, the Columbus Commons. She was offended, apparently, at how our children played corn hole. Our children were trying to throw bean bags overhand instead of underhand, and, because some of them were boys under the age of nine years old, they were also trying to throw them at each other. There were ETSS staff there to direct the children back to the game when it happened. But, to Corn Hole Carol, this meant a barrage of complaints to our main office, calls to security, and threats to call the police and the Columbus Dispatch to report the children’s “offensive” behavior.

Almost every Friday when ETSS goes on field trips, we have to field complaints and questions about our kids. For example, when I went to Ohio History Center two weeks ago, a (white) woman came up  and asked me pointedly where the children I was a chaperone for are from. This woman could have been genuinely curious, but it is hard to tell intentions in our current political and social climate. Many of the children ETSS serves are from or have parents who are from countries on Trump’s Supreme Court-backed travel ban list. There has been high profile media coverage of white people calling the police on children of color for doing ordinary activities. Almost every week when we take our children on field trips, our children, whether they are conscious of it or not, are targeted by adults due to their skin color, their immigration status, and/or their religion.

As our speakers from Tuesday’s learning session, Melissa Crum and LaShaun Carter discuss, there is a great need to address trauma in order to begin a healing process and in order to design and implement successful projects and programming for people in marginalized communities. ETSS knows deeply that we cannot properly serve our children without addressing they trauma they have experienced in their very short lives. I admire the ways in which ETSS looks beyond just focusing on subjects taught in school to also include emotional and social forms of learning, as well.

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Week 6: Fellow on the Go

This week I spent a considerable portion of my time away from the Summer Arts Camp environment. Out for some professional development opportunities, this week was extremely different from the usual day to day operations at the Complex.

Ohio State University has an annual Buckeye Bus Tour of Ohio. Centered around providing a select group of a  students with the opportunity to understand and serve the neighboring cities of Ohio, this opportunity by chance had a major focus on food insecurity in North East Ohio. As a Cleveland native who is currently working on a food and gardening program for The King Arts Complex, this couldn’t have been a more special opportunity. Using my platform as a student, I spoke with professors and community members on the trip about possible resources they could provide to help make a community garden and food pantry possible at the Complex. To my surprise, there are many efforts to address food insecurity in Columbus that are interested in partnering with local nonprofits. Getting the opportunity to learn more about an area that is so close to home was nostalgic and will have a great impact on the work that I am doing at the King Arts Complex.

Even with the amazing opportunity I was provided with by the Buckeye Bus, I missed being with the kids at the summer camp. Although they fall a little short when it comes to using terms like 501c3 and assets, they offer a relentless energy that can’t be matched by any person over the age of 13. Next week I will be returning with new knowledge on how to start the proposal process for the Community Garden and will be teaching a poetry/rap workshop for the kids in the camp as they start finalizing pieces for the Final Production at the end of camp. Here are some farm pictures, a photo of me rocking a fashionable hairnet with a fellow Buckeye, and a photo with Brutus.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT TUESDAY!

Podcast link: https://soundcloud.com/user-110817248/tcf-blog-week-6/s-kHrcI

Podcast Transcript:

“You know when you meet someone and they’re like “ohhh yeah I was traveling on business merhehrh” Well guess what? That’s me now. I’m really important. So important in fact, I had to travel for business. To Elyria, Ohio.

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Technically I went to Cleveland first, but then went to Elyria after. Why, you ask? Well, to take pictures, of course! And I’m really glad I did, because I think at these program sites I got the best pictures of Techie Camps so far. I stopped at two programs in Cleveland and two in Elyria. In Cleveland there was Student WEB CORPS and an E4Tech program happening. In Elyria there were two Techie Camps, one was an elementary school programming camp and the other was a middle school 3D printing camp.

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I took a few group photos, so obviously at the end I had them do a few silly ones. This girl in the front is my hero.

 

Between visiting the two sites, I got lunch with my supervisor Lisa and the person in charge of the Northeast Ohio programs, Michelle. We went to this place called Oh Boy, it’s like a traditional diner joint. I had a veggie burger, and it was jammin. I wasn’t sure if they would have many vegetarian options and I was pleasantly surprised. I scarfed down the sandwich and fries. It was really cute inside, they had jukeboxes at every table! They didn’t work, but they were fun to look at.

 

Visiting these sites in Northeast Ohio was really impactful for a few reasons.

The first reason is that I was able to see even more of what we’re doing for students. I saw four more programs in action and it was cool to put in perspective how far past Columbus we’re reaching–we even have camps in California!

I got to see some of how our corporate sponsorships work and what that looks like. Nordson Corporation is one of our major sponsors, and they sent a woman named Cecilia to check out our camps to see what their dollars are doing. I’m not really interested in the financing or business side of things, but it was eye opening to see what those interactions are like.

Most importantly, it made me even more excited to be an educator myself. When I was little I wanted to be a teacher, but as I got older I decided I didn’t want to because I didn’t see myself in a classroom and I wanted to do something more media related. Turns out that I really am supposed to be a teacher, and I can do that in a myriad of ways! I want to teach art and media to the community. Hanging out with the little kids doing their programming camp was such a blast. They are so funny, cute, quirky and loving. I just can’t wait until I’m the one doing the instruction.


I can’t believe this is week 6. Time flies when you’re working for a non-profit (having fun)!”

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