Friday, December 18, 2009

Today I had an encouraging moment.

Something I was dreading turned out to be fun and encouraging. I spoke in front of a group of college students today. Visiting on an endeavor to learn more about refugees and immigration issues, a group from UC Irvine has been spending the last few days meeting with different departments learning about all our services and the issues our clients face. Well, today was the Immigration Departments turn, in other words I was the one to step up to speak with them.

I wanted very much for it to be a discussion not me standing in front of a board group of individuals. One, I do not like holding the center of attention for too long, and two learning she be facilitated and therefore more fun and attention holding.

In a group of about 15 college students there was a diverse group of those who had immigrated, had family who had. There was the spectrum of majors from pre-med to pre-law, to engineer to Spanish majors.

We discussed the issues of immigration, the language barriers, the costs the triumphs and the challenges. The asked good questions like "do you ever get desensitized to the problems clients face?". We talked about their futures, the present experiences of the clients the immigration department serves and my past educational and career choices.

By the end of what I thought would be a 30 minute talk, but turned out to be an hour long discussion, the group agreed they all felt inspired by the weeks learning experience and discussion to work if not for the organization I work for, at least within the international community. It was encouraging to hear. It was also great to hear that they saw the joy and love of the job and people we serve from each other representatives from all the different departments within our organization. Its true too, we all love what we do, or we wouldnt be here.

And so I was encouraged.

Friday, December 11, 2009


My first week in my new job has ended, without much to note. I recommend transitions into new, better, more exciting positions at work to happen without much initial change. Takes some of the pressure off. The real change will happen after the New Year, when I have to 'go back to school' as it were for this new position and when I start seeing clients, taking on a caseload of my own. This new position has me truly excited. More responsibility, increased knowledge and skills, not to mention being selected to stay on as staff after a one year contract runs out is incredibly humbling and honoring. It is also a huge blessing when I know of friends, colleagues and family who are job searching without results.

A few weeks ago I was able to go to my first Naturalization Ceremony. Having been born within the U.S. I will never have to go through the, at times arduous, process of becoming a citizen, having been luckily enough to be born in the 'right' part of the world. The line for the ceremony wrapped the city block and started before 7:30am on a Wednesday morning. VIP status allowed us to skip the line and get great seats in the front of the huge auditorium on the sidelines with a perfect view of the Legal Permanent Residence (LPR) excitedly waiting to becoming citizens. I was exciting for me too, just as an observer to see 678 people walk in as LPR's and walk out Citizens. Refugees, Asylees and Immigrants eager to belong, to vote, to give opportunity to their children joined the ranks of everyday Americans in rights but so far ahead of most of us in appreciation of those rights.

I have also had my first traffic ticket in the past month. This I will not go into with any detail because of the great shame and not a little frustration that still lingers with the mention of this first.

It was driving to work a few weeks ago that I first realized I am basically doing what I had wanted to do. I am doing what the dream was in college. In college a life filled with adventure, independence and purpose was very much romanticized. I wanted to travel, to make an impact and to not be stuck in a monotonous, homogeneous bubble. I knew I wanted to work for a non-profit and I knew I wanted that non-profit to have something to do with the international community. I am the only 'American-born' in my department. Half of the staff for our office are former Refugees and Asylees. I work with Immigration law, a new found passion and interest. I am actually using my degrees and experience- who knew that was a possibility- I certainly didnt when I was working hard to obtain them. I just studied what I studied in undergrad and grad school because it interested me. Now I will go back to school for one semester to learn all the nitty-gritty details of Immigration Law. Im actually excited for this. Im excited to be able to fully understand the laws, eligibility requirements and benchmarks that I currently only brush upon. I traveled, I had adventure and I plan to have more. I first realized while driving to work one more morning I am my dream. Thank God for that dream.

Speaking of God, on quick reflection of my just written words it reminds me of a few lessons Ive been learning recently. Only the potter knows what the creation in his hands will develop into. What may seem like random and unconnected acts are actually all apart of the original plan. The other lesson and or reminder is that we have mulitple purposes. I am a multi-dimensional person with many talents, skills and strengths - and God knows it. He has created me for many purposes not a single culminating moment, issue or mission. That brings me great comfort just knowing its not one thing but many I am here for.

No doubt my list of first will greatly grow over the next weeks and months to come as I invest in a bit more edification and meet and greet my own clients. Scared and excited.