July 9, 2015

Insights & Investments

Found here.

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. Lots of them. Always. Introvert and over-analyzer alert. These things have been on my mind for awhile now. I think they've always been in the back of my mind, but I process things rather slowly sometimes. It's like these little seeds are planted and then they take time (sometimes weeks, months, years) to grow into full thoughts that I'm able to express. Also, this will probably be another lengthy post. Just a warning.

Found here.
Two Thursdays ago, the English campers were given the opportunity to interview four people about their jobs/careers. Morag (director of camp) asked me to be one of those people. As we know, I do not enjoy speaking in front of others, but I had gotten to know these young people and I was oddly excited to share with them. I know that when I was their age (that makes me sound super old), I was always very interested in hearing other people talk about their careers, why they chose a particular path, and how they got to where they are. Actually, I still greatly enjoy this!

They asked questions like...Why did you choose your job? Do you have job satisfaction? What have been some highs and lows? Do you prefer working in a team or by yourself? How is this job preparing you for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? I talked about my job as a School Social Worker back home (Hi Dakota folks!), my "job" here as a volunteer, and social work as a career in general.

Found here.
One of the questions that I mentioned above was, "Why did you choose your job?" and when they asked me I really had to think of how to answer it. I've thought about this question before, but I feel the answer is constantly changing and developing as I change, develop, and experience new things. I've always wanted to help people...that's always been the underlying reason, but it's grown into so much more than that. My answer to them on Thursday was that I never want anyone to feel hopeless or helpless, and therefore, I always want to "be there" for others. I want to help people get out of that dark place. I want to be a resource. I want to link them with whatever they need to feel important, valued, useful, hopeful, empowered, educated, etc. This can come in many, many different forms, and I tried to explain that as well. It could be food, employment, self-esteem, education, social skills, etc. 

Furthermore, I shared that I am firm believer in empowerment and education. There is a Chinese proverb that says, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Giving isn't always helpful. We need to stop, look and listen...before we cross the street but also...to find out what the needs are. Then, we can try to educate and empower people to make changes on their own...while encouraging and helping as needed of course. Shameless plug...This is one of the MANY reasons I love working with Veritas. They do this by providing holistic care to their clients. Also, I'm not saying any of this is easy, but it's so insanely important. Okay, I'll get off of my soap box now, but I HAD to share that. 

Back to the interview, I shared (in response to the question of how this job prepares me for the future) that I feel as if I've been preparing for this job my entire life, while also being constantly prepared for each day and the future. Woah. Run-on and potentially confusing sentence! Let me try to explain. In my opinion, being a Christian and a social worker are very similar. As a Christian, my goal is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to live out Matthew 25: 34-45, every single day. As a social worker, my goal is "to improve the quality of life and subjective well-being of individuals, families, couples, groups, and communities through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice, crisis intervention, and teaching for the benefit of those affected by social disadvantages such as poverty, mental and physical illness or disability, and social injustice, including violations of their civil liberties and human rights. The profession is dedicated to the pursuit of social justice and the well-being of oppressed and marginalized individuals and communities." (Thank you, Wikipedia.) I see some major similarities, and therefore, my faith and my career influence each other, as well as my past, present and future. I didn't go into all of that detail with the teens, but it all just flowed out of my fingers right now!

One of my favorite quotes ever. Found here.
Anyways, I've distracted myself. If you were in my head, you'd understand how I got sidetracked, but never mind that. The main point...that I definitely haven't made clear...INVEST IN PEOPLE. Invest in someone. A young person, an old person, just someone. One. But seriously, we need other people. And young people REALLY need other people. Please read the black and white quote to the left. Literally one of my favorite quotes ever. They have art prints and mugs and t-shirts with this quote and I want them ALL. 

I'll finally try to connect all of the pieces for you...I truly believe that I am where I am today (not just my physical location, but also mentally, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) because people invested in me when I was young. Technically, I am still "young", but that's beside the point. Being young can be very difficult at times. You often feel alone and like nobody understands or even cares (back to those hopeless and helpless feelings I mentioned earlier). 

I will go the grave saying that I have been surrounded by some of the BEST PEOPLE EVER. Seriously, the best. Family, friends, church family, mentors, etc. I just can't say it enough. I know I haven't done a very good job of thanking these people, but that's not why did it in the first place. That's not an excuse, but I think I can safely assume that they did it because someone invested in them. At the time, I don't think I realized that these people were investing in me, but OH MY GOODNESS...I look back and it is so clear now. They were investing, educating and empowering me. My family always encouraged me to be who I am. They educated me about the importance of strong values, education, being a good person, helping others, etc. My friends always listened and encouraged...and by doing so they taught me how to be a better listener and encourager and how to be a loyal friend. I think it's safe to say that some of them taught me how to be more adventurous and spontaneous too, which I so greatly appreciate as the oldest sibling and someone with a naturally Type A personality. My church family educated, prayed, etc. I could make a list of how specific people invested in me, but I think you get the point. 

Anyways, back to making the connection...Helping at English Camp (among other programs I've been working with in Romania like It Takes Courage, for example) reminds me of how AMAZING young people are. They are so full of life and possibilities and courage and hope and so much more. They are so valuable...and need to be reminded of that sometimes. Sooooo...INVEST IN SOMEONE. The end. 

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