Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools

Tulane VISTA at Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools

Wendy Liu, Resource Coordinator at Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools

In the midst of updating a calendar with grant due dates, I’ve come to the sudden realization that my time with Rethink is so short. In no way is it a profound realization but it’s made all the more real when I see report due dates for grants that I’ve worked on in January, February, and September of 2015. It makes me wonder, who will be working on these reports in the future? Who exactly is going to replace me? A large portion of Rethink’s current staff is going to face a turnover and new additions to the team are not exactly a new thing. I have no doubt that Rethink will handle the situation well but where will that leave me? As a Tulane med-VISTA, I have no choice but to leave behind the work I’ve put into the mission of Rethink, trusting (and knowing) that they’ll continue to thrive and expand. Now when I think about this I get sad partially because I’m leaving a special environment of people I’ve learned to love and trust, but also because I won’t continue to see the growth of Rethink and how it will change within the years to come. 

A week ago, I went on a hike (more of a walk due to the natural landscape of New Orleans) in Jean Lafitte with some co-workers and ended up discussing the significance of this quote,

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” 

hiking

For me, I feel a sense of gratification from my work when I can see immediate and direct results. As a VISTA who rarely does direct service, the concept that the quote captures couldn’t be more applicable. Even my co-workers have asked me, “What’s it like, sitting at a desk all day? Don’t you get bored?” Their questions started hitting home when we started discussing outcomes of our work. I’d be lying if I said I experience a lot of job satisfaction…there are good moments, yet a large portion of the time I feel insignificant in many ways. Many of my coworkers get to directly work with the students that we serve and I can’t help but be envious that they can see the results of their work manifest itself in the Rethinkers almost immediately through ideas they plant and concepts the introduce.

Food Justice and Restorative Justice committee brainstorm and skits

However, in the process of discussing the above quote, I came to realize that there really isn’t anything wrong with my point of view. It’s human nature to want to experience immediate satisfaction after an action, to have that positive reinforcement loop. But an important rule of success is the ability for delayed gratification; to know that by holding out or waiting, you will be rewarded with something bigger and greater. It’s not a concept that I’m unfamiliar with, in fact, I’m far more familiar with this since it’s what got me through my undergraduate career. (note: regardless of the many rough patches, I did thoroughly enjoy my experience and most of the classes I took). It didn’t occur to me to think about work in these terms, especially since my previous work experience consisted of  typical high school jobs (waitressing, amusement park work, etc.). This is the first time that I’ve worked in a job that I actually have learned to be passionate about and that’s why it’s frustrating to feel like I’m not seeing results. Except now, after an unexpected morning discussion about the 7th generation concept, I’ve come to realize that although I may not be seeing changes, in the long run, I’ll have contributed something to Rethink. I’ve also been able to reflect on the fact that almost all major changes in history are the result of a snowball effect, where small actions are collected together to form larger and larger actions, which eventually spearhead the push for change. 

In the meantime, I’m going to sit and let these thoughts marinate some more and to actively practice positive thinking. I know this isn’t the most mind blowing epiphany but it’s definitely allowed me to get more satisfaction from my everyday work. Here is a picture of a cute armadillo family my coworkers and I encountered at Jean Lafitte:

The Armadillo fam: Grapefruit, Ma, and Carrot

armadillo

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2014 by in Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, VISTA Field Reports.

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