Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Week of May 18.

Its hump day. And I'm feelin it.. I tired.

Monday was a good day. Spent the day pulling together education resources which was good because I had a participant asking about nursing programs in the afternoon. Thank the Lord for all of my family and friends who have gone through that process. It is by far one of the more popular routes here since you can get your CNA and GED at the same time and build up towards the rest as you go. See I know what I'm talking about! WOOT! After that I got called into one of the caseworkers offices to connect with a new resident. She is pretty awesome and I can't say much because everything is confidential obviously but I am excited to be doing what I am doing. I'll be working closely with some of the other caseworkers and they have all been so nice. A great balance of being patient as I settle in as well as spurring me to take initiative as well. Adan, our administrator was so sweet today. He is excited to hear what projects I have in mind. I didn't know how to tell him I wasn't really there yet. I still sort of feel like I am playing catch up, but that I am almost caught up!

Tuesday I had a few different meetings and some good news about some of the ladies achievements and graduations! I am excited to start being a part of the process when that happens in the future. I had my first one on one with the new resident and signed my first real people papers. Last night I worked with the kids to make a thank you card for the rotary club and although I was a little surprised at the messy (but totally kid made) outcome Clemencia was so excited about it today! So that was good. She was impressed and I felt capable once again. As I left work a bunch of the kids I had met the previous week came up and said miss phyllis we missed you! I almost cried I was so happy. I get paid to be loved on and to love on others. What could be better? Cute little Baruc screamed Lator Gator as I walked out. I deftly answered After awhile Crocodile.. tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. I love my job.

Today was a long but also a great day. I had my first offsite meeting with Shadecie at the Region 19 Homeless and Migrant Org. They run a summer camp that I'll be intimately involved in. Most importantly I get to go on field trips with the kids which means the Zoo, Bowling, Putt Putt and some weird place named BoB-Os. In the meeting we could not get "rafael" to pronounce it.. We thought he was saying Bubbles or bobbles or bo-bos. Finally when I got to the office I looked it up. Indeed it is called Bob-Os . Apparently they have lazer tag. Hurrrrah!! I get to play for a living. After that I worked in the front office most of the afternoon. I still don't know to many answers and I have to forward a lot of calls but I really enjoy the interaction I get with the Participants and staff. I get to play with babies and teach people on the computer, sign paperwork and do my own stuff when it gets slow. We had crazy donations today including two pallets of bananas, a lasagna, salads, cupcakes and a bunch of clothes. It was crazy!!

So today was a good day. I got home and crashed for a bit. I had every intention of studying tonight but I can't figure out where to start. I need UTEP library/internet to find sources because all the ones I want are nowhere to be found. So. Procrastination continues. I will hopefully move in to the new apartment next week with becky and be walking distance to the school so I can finish my paper. Deadline: May 31st for paper three. Outline of Thesis by June 15. We'll see if that happens. Yipe!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Days Three and Four + Training.

Day Three: Thursday May 14.

What did I do Thursday? I spent the day compiling contacts. I now have a rather exhaustive list of all my contacts from all the brochures and random lists I had found in my computer files left by previous ECD Specialists. It is frustrating to reorganize but I'm starting to feel better. It took a good part of my day and I don't know if it was that effective but hopefully it will be. In the afternoon Clemencia was like so are you ready for Life Skills tonight? AKA do you have childrens activities ready? Uhhhh... no. Why? Because I was not aware I would be responsible for it the FIRST WEEK. Then she was like don't worry we didn't expect you to quite yet.. PHEW. BUT you do have to get the rooms set up and ready to go. SO I started with that. Getting the water and snacks and things ready. Picking books etc. I was lucky enough to be in the room with the older Kids. I had: Cy, Al, An, Je, Ma, Al, Ba and one other girl who's name has gone. I'm trying very hard to learn names around here and failing miserably. It was a lot of fun though. The older girl.. Jessica I think... was a lot of help and we connected by pop up books. All I had was paper scissors and crayons so we made bird mask popups and she was so intrigued by how to make a simple popup. It was a lot of fun. One of the little girls kept cutting out squares, drawing door knobs and saying she made me doors. Which made me laugh. Then she had me draw a cupcake so I wrote in the card, Cupcakes are sweet and so are you.. She then made me a card with a cake and wrote ver batim: Christmas merry sweet to you have cake. I busted out laughing and gave her a big hug. No Idea. Loved it. Posted it on my wall.

Friday May 15:

Today was allll computers. I spent the entire day looking up job listings and printing them out. Nothing too exciting just trying to find the best sites for el paso. Sadly the El Paso Times website didn't work and they usually have the most up to date and legitimate job postings. Its fun to sort of be comfortable with this part because I spend my month of job searching myself. The hard part is that a lot of these women barely have there GED or don't have it so my searching focus is a lot different. I have to look for hourly skilled jobs for basically the equivalent education of a 16 year old, or an 18 year old. Some of the women have some college but some don't. I had to mark a lot of the ones for UTEP and EPCC as BA/MA required so they don't waste their time.

Reflections this week:
I am flip flopping between feeling competent, and feeling so tiny. It is because these women are so incredible. They are taking steps to improve their lives and they are so humble and sweet, yet hard and independent. I had a conversation with one of the women Lo. She is in the process of taking her gen Eds at EPCC in hopes to get a CNA by the time she leaves. After that she wants to pursue teaching with the money she is making as a CNA. I don't know how thats going to work quite yet but we'll have our first official meeting in a week or two. Either way she was so excited about this class she just finished her exams for. The teacher was proud of her and praised her in front of the other students. Papers that would take a middle class freshman 20 minutes takes her hours because she is not used to formal typing,writing, english, research etc. But she did it, with kids and work and all sorts of issues to deal with. These are the types of situations I'll be working with and I am already excited for my first graduation party.

But why do I feel competent/incompetent? I am that college freshman who grew up writing papers in twenty minutes. I can do my job and do it well. I am 24 with an almost masters, no kids, a full time job, benefits, a car, and a support system. But I had it so easy. How can I tell these women everything will be fine when I don't know if they'll pass their GED? Not because they are dumb, but because the system asks you to use a type of english they are not used to. I was reading a book called Understanding Poverty that talks about how students from low to very low income grow up with the social rules of their class which often excludes the formal register of speech required for success in the middle class. Think of life at work. When you have conversations with your friends, your conversations require their interaction. Every conversation is like a story being told.. Then so and so.. do you believe it? But when we switch to business or school the tone changes.. or register as this book calls it. You switch to a formal register. So and so has this job to do and will finish it by this time. Thank you, Sincerely Phyllis. This is the register that is a required rule for success in the middle class, but a register that most low to very low class families rarely use or have access to. The education system is based on the median "culture" aka the middle class culture and its rules. Which means low class students go to school in a middle class culture, and are required to learn the invisible cultural rules of that class in order to pass the tests. Think of testing: ALL IN THE FORMAL REGISTER. GED=FORMAL REGISTER. Applications, job interviews, job descriptions, course listings, everything needed to succeed in the middle class.. or any class.. requires use of a type of english that most of the women at the center don't really have access to.

So that leaves me with a question. How can I use what I know to benefit them?

Saturday May 16th:
My Training was this weekend!!!
I am not going to say to much right now because I'll be spending my day processing and I don't want to get into that brain right now but I will say it went very very well thanks to becky and peggy for all their help. My spanish was relatively rough but the activities we did helped a lot because instead of presenting content they could read it and we could explain it to the groups in more depth. It was so hard and so challenging but went very well! A lot of the women left very grateful and excited to use their new information. Success!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Day One and Two

Phew its been crazy! I am about to head out to work again but thought I'd post on days one and two first...

Tuesday Official day 1!

Tuesday and Thursday are my late mornings so I got to work around noon. I met with my supervisor Shadecie and we went over paperwork, I got the tour, keys and the official introduction to my office that I share with the director of programming. She left for lunch so I nestled into my office and started inventory. Basically I'm one of those people that needs to know what I have at my disposal. So I rampaged all the files and folders and resources to figure out what was there. Much to my dismay it was obvious that they have turned this job over a few times in the last year. The same sets of forms and files were in multiple places. I got to work trying to organize my files and whatnot. I didn't get far when Shadecie called me down to shock therapy. Haha.. not really but she put me to run the front office for awhile. That was fun because when all the ladies come in they have to sign in so I got to meet a bunch of them. It also means handing out meds, cleaning supplies for chores, taking messages and opening the security gate. It is a safe facility so we have a big metal gate around us to keep unwelcome visitors out like ex husbands and such. That was basically my first day.

Day two came with fury. I had plans for reorganization already. I still didn't have computer access but I knew I had to get those files in order for me to feel good about my organization. So I set to condensing, tossing stuff I wouldn't need (sign in sheets from 2006? really?) etc. It was like nesting. After that I started the monumental task of organizing all of the brochures and resources we have. There are all these informational packets about different programs and organizations that I'm not familiar with yet so I put them all in a big binder so I could find them and be comfortable with it. After THAT the IT dept got me set up with email and computer stuff so the real fun begins as I start to input contacts and make databases. I won't lie I'm sort of lost on what my day to day stuff will look like but I think that will all start next week. For now I am just trying to work on a few of the bigger projects that will be compiling resources. Next week I start my initial meetings with the ladies to get a handle on where they are at in education and job status. Yesterday I also worked with Clemencia (Director) a little bit. They are taking some of the ladies to Adventure Zone with their kids this weekend so we were organizing teams and such. All of the sudden it was 5:30 and I had to be at BBB at 6 for my last shift!!! I'm still looking for someone to cover my Fri but I'm calling in either way because I have to be in juarez to meet peggy.

Saturday is my training and I am sooo excited but incredibly nervous I haven't been practicing my Spanish. Yikes!

Later guys!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


A loooonnngg day yesterday. after coming back to work on training stuff, taking a nap and grabbing a snack I headed to BBB for my 6-11 shift. First I grabbed the wrong shirt so I ended up just wearing my black shirt from the day covered in fuzzies from my nap, then I forgot my cell phone which is always rather unnerving. At work I expected to come in to praise after setting up a pretty amazing registry and basically handing them our largest registry on a platter. Much to my dismay, the girl I had told to call the bride never did so they didn't come in, we missed our deadline for Fine China counts, and the registry though still good wasn't finished. I still kicked ass and it will be a good registry in the end but I was so frustrated that my work went to crap. Most importantly I was frustrated that I was frustrated about my work in friggin retail. I don't CARE how many pieces of fine china we move in a week. I don't care. So needless today my day at work today will be gratifying and exciting because it actually has an impact on peoples lives other than the color of plates they choose. The people I work with will take food on a cardboard box and probably have. Praise God for simplicity, hope and the honor of a job that makes change in the world.

I'll post how my first "official" day at work goes. I get off around eight, to justins for dinner then training prep after! YIPE!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The New Job.

I got a new job. I am the education and career development specialist at the YWCA: Transitional Living Center (TLC). I am stoked.

The TLC is a place for homeless women and their children to come and stay for anywhere between 6 and 24 months while they get back on their feet. They are offered a range of social services including but not limited to me!!

I'll be in charge of coordinating the education plans of all of the residents, teaching classes, tranings, and seminars to the residents, coordinating childrens activities for the time during those classes, and thinking of fun events and seminars for them all during the summer months. It will be a range of working with both the adults and their education, hoping that they leave with skills that will help them land jobs, as well as working with the children and teaching life skills and values.

Have I mentioned this job is perfection?

So today was my first day and I spent the morning in YWCA New-hire orientation. I was the only full time hire and it was sort of a strange feeling. I feel oddly empowered to do this job. I know I can do it and do it well. A few years ago I wouldn't have been able to say that!! God is good!

I am also excited that this position means some stability in my life. It sort of adjusts my goals a little bit. I am still hoping to graduate in August but if I can't get all my work done AND graduate by August I can now afford to push it back til November and be able to breathe. I am going to try my damnedest not to have to do that but its an option. I am also excited to be in one place for a good amount of time. Becky and I are getting an apartment on the east time and we are both planning on sticking around for atleast 2 years!! Hurrah!!

It also means I can keep investing in the Rio and put some roots down there.

It ALSO means I can pay off my credit cards and think about a new computer. I'll be able to afford it being on salary.. I'll have health insurance and I'll be in a job that will make an impact.

PERFECTION. God is good.. he provides as usual. Thank to everyone for your continued support.