As I sit here alone on the eve of the upcoming school year, I am trying to mentally prepare myself for what lies ahead of me. Term papers, tons of reading (in one class I have 10 required books plus 7 recommended readings, yikes!!!), not to mention seeing clients, research projects, and lots of grading are all in my very near future. Just thinking about it all makes me anxious. I also realized that I didn't accomplish my academic goals for the summer. I didn't read enough, write at all, and I still have no master's thesis topic. However, I don't feel that this summer was an entire waste.
This summer I worked as a telemarketer and it really was an eye opening experience. Although this was not my first experience as a telemarketer, it was the first time I really paid attention to what was going on around me. I met a lot of wonderful people and I just wanted to give a shout out to my coworkers. As a grad student, I really did not have much interaction with the "locals" in my new community. Though rarely discussed, there is a major disconnect between the University and the community at large. We do our community service projects and conduct our research, which is supposed to benefit our people, however more times than not we play right into the seperatist bullshit that we so passionately fight against. However, as I worked alongside those in the community, I was reminded of their humanity. Those who we consider "the locals" are our the mothers, fathers, grandmas, granpas, brothers, and sisters back home. Many of women that I met at my job remind me of my girlfriends back home. They have goals, hopes, and dreams just like we do. They work hard and get paid little and many times are treated less than humanely. And now I feel personally offended when I hear one of my colleagues criticize the people in this community because they could just as easily be criticizing my family and those in my own community.
The experience this summer has put me in my place. It reminded me that I not only am part of my community back home but I am also a part of the community here. We have a responsibility to treat the people that we encounter here with dignity and to give them the respect that they deserve.