18 3 / 2010
On the Hunt – Day 4: Mercy Corps
Graduating has given me a chance to focus on a few of those things I couldn’t do during school; i.e. blogging, reading (for pleasure - Yay!), and studying Arabic. I’ve been trying to keep up with this blog for the past week (I don’t get a perfect score, but I should get an A for effort), and I’m reading a fantastic book by Reif Larsen about a 12-year-old cartographer from Montana (The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. Find it at your local library.), which just makes me happy. Arabic has been a little tougher to get into, mainly because I’ve been busier than I thought I would be. However, I got some great starter books, as I’m hoping to start over from the beginning and start working on my Arabic reading and writing which needs a lot of work. The thing is, unlike the majority of the schoolwork I’ve been forced to do the past couple of months, I’m extremely excited about diving back into Arabic. I’m not sure what the deal is, but I am incredibly drawn to the language and culture; I just can’t get enough.
Because of this, Amber and I have been scouring the web for any jobs in the Middle East. We spent nearly a year in Egypt in 2007-2008, and had a great time. It’d be wonderful to go back, work on our language study, and live somewhere fun. We’d love to spend some time in Damascus, but finding a job has been tough.
That’s why I got pretty excited to see a job at Mercy Corps which necessitated some Arabic language skills, and experience in the Middle East. The location of this job was left fairly vague, although I think it may still be in the states. Still, any opportunity to use my language skills and make more Middle East connections are welcome… The emphasis on working with youth (Global Citizen Corps) and web development made this seem like a perfect fit.
Not much else to say. I’m still fairly optimistic despite the depressing stories I’ve heard from the job market. Don’t worry, faithful reader (…readers?) I’ll let you know the moment I get a callback.
In the meantime, any languages/cultures you feel drawn to?
And of course, how is your job/ job search going?
18 3 / 2010
18 3 / 2010
18 3 / 2010
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17 3 / 2010
On the Hunt – Day 3: Free the Slaves
Today was tough.
Since I haven’t mentioned it yet, I should probably talk about my current employment. I’ve been working as the Communications Coordinator for the Human Trafficking Clinic (HTC) at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies since October of 2009. HTC was started as an attempt to provide solid academic backing behind the modern-day anti-human trafficking movement, a movement that has been expanding rapidly on conflicting statistics.
First of all, I have to say, it’s been a fantastic job. I’ve been working to design a brand for the organization, both visual and message, online and in print. I’ve designed logos, websites, posters, and t-shirts, and I’ve been slowly building a comprehensive marketing strategy for a “non-profit” in the 21st century.
Today I worked on some event flyers for our Human Trafficking Awareness week, (April 4th-10th, 2010) but for some reason my brain hasn’t fully recovered from school… and it took me all day to conceptualize and execute the design. I’m exhausted, but ultimately proud of the end result.
Needless to say, that project kept me from doing much job applying today. Yet, it did inspire me to follow up with an application I recently sent in, one I am extremely excited about:
Considering the above, the 2010 Zimmerman Fellowship with Free the Slaves sounds like the perfect job - Video Production, Social Media use, Blogging, Graphic Design, and all for a cause I’ve longed perceived as the “front lines” of the battle for a noble and moral humanity, with an organization I’ve heavily admired for the past few years. Despite the short time frame, (year-long fellowship) this is as close to “dream job” as I have gotten in the hunt so far. After contacting their office today, I learned that they’re making their decisions this week and next. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
I’m sure I’ll write more about Free the Slaves, HTC and the monstrous reality of modern-day slavery in the future. In the meantime, check out the links above, and those of you in Denver, don’t miss our HTC events from April 4th-10th.
16 3 / 2010
On the Hunt – Day 2: Just Vision
Today I applied myself….
for a job. (I’m the only one who thinks that’s funny, huh?)
So, there it goes—- another application sent off into Never-Never Land. I like to imagine my rejected Resumes hanging out with former 80’s child stars and those socks that don’t come back from the dryer. Nobody burst my bubble with the paper-shredder reality.
The open position was with Just Vision, an organization that is right up my alley.
Just Vision exists to tell the stories of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that don’t show up on the nightly news (and these days, that’s most of them). You may know them from their video production of Encounter Point (here, go find it at your local library), a documentary following Israeli and Palestinian peace activists as they struggle to make a connection. The documentary did a good job of laying it out there, making everyone a little uncomfortable at times, a feeling we should probably have, considering the stakes.
I have my own stakes in this issue. I’ve traveled to the region a few times now, and made friends on both sides of the conflict. I’ve also spent time in neighboring countries, and I know the amount of trouble it causes for everyone else; extremists use the conflict as an excuse to terrorize, and dictators use the conflict as a distraction from their own failing policies. Only the worst type of people gain anything from this perpetual tragedy.
Yet, I’ve also seen the peacemakers. I’ve seen the activists stand up and attempt to make their voices heard, amidst escalating violence and repression. I’ve done what I can to try and echo those voices, to extend them wherever I can. Recently, after returning from Jerusalem, I and some peers began a new discussion over at Aware! (currently in re-design), we hope it will be an open venue for discussion of this incredibly important event here in the states, where the story is so often stifled.
Anyone else feel like they have a stake in this issue? Leave a comment, tell me your story!
15 3 / 2010
On the Hunt – Day 1
So it begins.
My love-hate relationship with school (heavily imbalanced towards the “hate” side) is over.
Friday marked my last class of grad school; today marks my first day on “the hunt.”
Needless to say, I’m a bit anxious. Yes, a slow-recovering recession doesn’t help, and those who graduated a year ago and are still unemployed only add to the nervous depression, but for me the anxiousness is related more to my own lack of single-mindedness regarding my ideal job.
Remember the days when you had one answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My stock answer was, “Archeologist.” It’s the first “dream job” I can remember. I couldn’t spell it at the time, but I had watched enough Indiana Jones movies to know that archeologists had great benefits (all expenses paid travel, always getting the girl, lucrative investment portfolio opportunities), and a lot of fun.
The foundational draw of that job (besides the irrational desire to be Indiana Jones) was the opportunity to find yourself as an influential component in the arc of history, becoming involved in something bigger than yourself.
It’s a desire I still have to this day… Among others…
Currently I’m torn by three competing desires when it comes to “the hunt”:
- I want a technical job: I want to be involved in practically-purposed work. i.e.:sustainable development, microfinance, or humanitarian relief projects, to name a few options.
- I want a creative job: I enjoying telling stories. I want to design, create, and produce videos, web sites, and graphics.
- I want to live on a tropical beach somewhere on a remote island and grow my own food, brew my own beer, and learn to surf without a care in the world.
Needless to say, finding a job that fits the bill is nearly impossible. (And #3 looks better and better each day.)
So that’s why I’m here, writing again after what seems like an eternity, to realize my dream employment one day, and one job at a time. Hopefully this will be a short series, one that ends in the perfect job (for me or for you). More likely it will be a perpetual self-awareness activity that continues to adapt and evolve as long as I’m physically able to contribute to that ever-expanding arc of history.
I’d love to hear your thoughts - What is your dream job?
02 3 / 2010
Evangelicals and Development: A Response to Nicholas Kristof
Once again, Nicholas Kristof on the New York Times has inspired a personal rant.
In his most recent op-ed in the New York Times, he lambastes the “liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations,” and elevates the action of Evangelical development groups across the globe.
First off, I must say, I have friends that work for these organizations, and I believe they have the best intentions along with incredible hearts of service. Hopefully I can word this post properly, since my issue is not with them as individuals as much as it is with organizations that hold a black-and-white view of spirituality and history.
Furthermore, I’m happy to hear that Kristof believes there is a sea-change happening within Evangelical circles regarding relief and development work. The focus on the afterlife, conversion, and dogma, and the inability to practically address the problems of the poor, needy, and oppressed was one the primary reasons I left the Evangelical faith nearly 5 years ago. I would love to see a new movement that drops the dead weight and focuses on the work we can do in the present.
My main issue with Kristof’s article is that he belittles the significant impediments that exist between these two groups, charging them to drop the “snootiness” and “sanctimony” and “succeed together against common enemies”. It’s a great idea on the surface, but on a philosophical level, Evangelicals and secular liberals have a lot of counseling to attend to before they can “get along” in the development field.
How about a poor metaphor? …
Though I may appreciate the effective social programs of Hamas and Hezbollah, programs which have made them popular in Gaza and Lebanon, I have a deep-seated opposition to their motivating philosophy, and therefore would never consider supporting their work unless that foundational philosophy changed. Their foundational philosophies may not lessen the immediate impact, (food on the table, money in the pocket) but the long-term implications of their guiding principles create a serious impasse for those of us who believe in the importance of international law, liberation of the oppressed, and freedom of choice.
When it comes to groups like World Vision, as Kristof mentioned, I have similar issues with their guiding principles on at least three levels (there are more, but I ramble enough as it is):
#1. As a liberal, secular humanist, I have a problem with discriminatory employment practices that exclude those from different faith backgrounds. Yes, it may be perfectly legal, but it doesn’t inspire much hope in the work they are trying to accomplish if they can’t agree to work with those they may disagree with.
#2. As a relief and development professional, I believe this discriminatory practice can only lessen their overall effect as an organization because they exclude important voices from the conversation, and therefore become an organization dedicated to talking, rather than listening. This can breed a mixture of divine mandate with the all-too common problem, in the development field, of ethnocentrism.
#3. As a former Evangelical, I know too well the tendency to allow “conversion” and proselytizing to be the motivating factor in development work, even if it is well-hidden among other motivations. The Evangelicalism I grew up in forced an imperative, one that viewed every action through the lens of mortality, or in this case, immortality. How can you truly “save-the-world” without saving souls? This is a problem on many fronts, it effects credibility, true freedom of choice, and trust on the development field.
These points, unfortunately, strike at the very core of my own personal values, and make it difficult to work with, or support this particular organization, and others like it. Kristof can call it snootiness, I call it professional responsibility and personal conviction.
The values and goals of each group are at odds with each other on the most foundational of levels, and it’s these values and goals which need to be reconciled before any “practical progress” can be made together. In this case, the very definition of “practical progress” may be disputed. Is the end goal of relief and development less poverty, more freedom, more options, social and economic progress, and equality? Or is it more churches, more Bibles, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
This is a crude stereotype, I know, but I mean it as a sincere query. If your guiding religious philosophy tells you that no man can be saved unless he is “saved,” how will that effect your foray into relief and development? Can those tendencies be reconciled with the liberal idea of development, one that values equality, freedom of diversity of religion? If not, how can these two groups ever hope to “get along”?
I recently worked for (and still support) an organization that considered itself “faith-motivated.” The founder and many of the board members were devout Evangelicals with a passion for social justice, the end of human suffering, and poverty. Yet, though their personal faith was a motivating factor, it was not imposed on those we worked with; staff nor partners. In fact, our staff was full of a variety of faith-motivated people, Catholic, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic (Some considered themselves all of the above…).
I appreciated the amount of struggle that went into this reconciliation process, and truly believe it was this internal struggle between personal faith and respecting the “other” which made that particular organization great. The value of input from those who came from different faith perspectives strengthened our mission, and led credibility to our goal of inclusive, partner-based work.
I don’t see that kind of inclusiveness in an organization like World Vision, and it forces me to question their effectiveness in a field already sullied by an ethnocentric outlook.
Now, perhaps I’m completely off-base here. Perhaps these Evangelical organizations truly have moved forward, embraced a humanistic aspect of intelligent relief and development, letting their faith motivate them without sullying their practical vision; without imposing their views on others in some form or another. If this second part is the case, they deserve much more credit than even Kristof can give them, because from personal experience, it is nearly an impossible task. In the end, I decided to do what I could to help the poor, needy, and oppressed here on earth, and let God worry about the state of their souls.
This is something I’m still grappling with, and would love your response—- What do you think?
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17 11 / 2009
Statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the Approval of Settlement Expansion in Jerusalem
For Immediate Release November 17, 2009
“We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem. At a time when we are working to re-launch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. The U.S. also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes. Our position is clear: the status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties.”