The Year of My Awakening
Aside from talking back to my parents, I’ve pretty much always followed the rules. Sure, I’ve run through the typical adolescent questions about the meaning of life, the purpose of my existence, and the role of God in my framework of the world, but that’s about it. I haven’t questioned authority or convention or or political ideology. Why should I bother forming my own opinions I was told that they didn’t matter? In summer school after my first year of full university study, a T.A. told me what you think and feel is irrelevant. How could you be arrogant enough to think that your opinion matters? What you need to do is to tell us what the experts say. I got the message. Write what other people have to say, and save your opinions for conversations, not formal papers. Only, I took it too far. I heard Do not question the way things are. Allow them to be what they are and find your place within society as it already exists.
I listened, and I played by the rules, graduating from two respectable universities in four years with a B.A. and a Teaching Certificate. Then I realized that playing by the rules didn’t give me what I expected to receive – a fulfilling, full time job with an annual salary of at least $30,000. Instead, I had to decide between something fulfilling that wouldn’t pay well, and teaching, something that paid decent money for a 22 year old, but would be very difficult and frustrating for me at this stage in life. That’s a basic explanation of why I joined AmeriCorps which led me to Olympia where I met many people whose life slogans could be QUESTION EVERYTHING, so once again, I listened.
In my interview for the position I have, I said that I wanted a different perspective on the world, I wanted my white-middle class perceptions challenged, and even though I’m from California, the land of diversity, I knew I still had a lot to learn about life, about poverty, and about people. That, and if I’m honest, I want people to say of me as Aibeleen says of Mae Mobley in The Help, “[she] is kind, [she] is smart, [she] is important.” I don’t know if that is what people would say about me or not, but in the five months that I’ve served with AmeriCorps so far, my views have been challenged and now I’m left trying to figure out what that means for my personal development. I’m thinking about going back to grad school and pursuing a degree in public policy or public affairs, but then I wonder if more school is the answer. I’m appalled by everything that I see and read about the growing gap between rich and poor, and I’ve learned to question corporations and government statements. This morning I read Noam Chomsky’s The Common Good and I think I’m going to try to reacquire Leo Chavez’ book The Latino Threat which I read for a sociology class in college before Leo Chavez came and lectured to our class.
After all of this I sit and think if my view on the world has changed this much in the past year, what will I think by the time I leave Olympia in six months? And perhaps most importantly, Where do I go from here?