Zoe and I caught up the other night over dinner. I had been almost completely out of touch with my friends for the past few weeks because I was between cell phones and because I was adjusting to my new job. It was great to talk about my new job with Zoe because she hadn’t already heard about it and because I value her opinion. She asked me if the start of this blog was directly related to the start of my new job. It is definitely coincidental, but the blog really happened because I had a nice amount of free time between jobs than because I explicitly intend(ed) to blog about my new job. That said, both the start of my job and of my blog are definitely related to my realization that social injustice pre-occupies my thoughts and that I am most compelled to respond to injustice that feels close to home. For me, as a white female citizen of Philadelphia (which as of 2000 was 43% black, 42%white, 5%Asian, 5%other, 3%mixed race) the type of injustice that is most frequently and immediately visible is the centuries old anti-black white-supremacist American racism.
After working at the Academy of Natural Sciences for a few years I became confident that a.) the thing I liked most about work was communicating successfully with a wide variety of people and that b.) I spend more time thinking about race than any other issue I consider important because race issues seem to have a more immediate bearing on my life than any other sort of social issue. Looking to leave the museum career path and hoping to get my foot in the door with a community oriented non-profit in Philly, I applied to an administrative assistant job at a non-profit that runs charter schools in the city.
A fortuitous combination of my tangentially relevant work experience, a decent cover letter and an insightful HR Recruiter (to whom I will feel indebted for years) enabled me to land the job of program coordinator for a preK–K charter school’s after care program. In my new job, I handle the administrative/organizational aspects of the program, communicate with social service organizations, coordinate with staff, strengthen/develop the curriculum and market the program to interested parents. Also, I spend time with adorable 3-6 yr old kids. Though I’ve never considered being a full-time teacher and I don’t think it’s something I’ll pursue in the future, I am completely dedicated to improving the school experience for these kids whenever the opportunity arises. Moreover, the kids are just plain invigorating to the workaday pace and attitude. There’s no half-assing it with little kids. They are completely impossible to ignore and entirely too cute.
Seriously, I had never before imagined that I could love a job this much. Sure, my vague and distant visions of writing/teaching philosophy or social criticism for a living were (and still are) quite alluring. But I never ever ever thought I would find a 5 days a week, 8 hrs a day J. O. B. that would be so perfectly challenging and so personally fulfilling.