I wrote a letter to one my state’s Democratic House members today (let’s call her Norah). I “know” her through our mutual acquaintance with a former state senator (who happens to be a long time Chili family friend), and Norah graciously accepted my friend request on facebook after I read a newspaper article about her that really, really impressed me.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I should go, professionally, from here. While I really want to be back in the classroom, I’m not sure that I want to limit myself to just that. I mean, sure; I love teaching and it’s something that I always want to do, but I’m not certain that I’m going to be able to find a school where I can teach the way I teach.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how energized I was during the election. I spent a lot of that time deeply frustrated, certainly, but I was alert and engaged and really thinking about what I believe are really important things. I’m wondering if I can translate that energy into a different career path; one that utilizes my skills in education and English while tapping into my enthusiasm for social justice policy.
So, I wrote this letter to Norah. I’m hoping that if she can’t help me herself, she can put me in touch with someone who might have some use for what I have to offer.
I wish that I could make this introduction in person because I fear that I’m not going to come off at all the way I intend. Keeping that in mind, I’m just going to forge ahead and hope for the best. I beg your indulgence.
I am a 43-year-old mother of two teenaged daughters. My husband and I have been together for over 20 years and have lived in Small Coastal Town for all of them. I graduated from Local U in 1996 with a degree in English with a concentration in education and literary criticism, got married that summer, and delivered our first child the following June. Mr. Chili and I did the math and realized that it would be much more financially sound for me to stay home with the baby, so that’s what I happily did. Our second daughter was born in March of 1999, and I rocked the stay-at-home-mom gig until she went to kindergarten and I headed back to LU for grad school. I finished my Master’s in English teaching in 2006 and worked teaching at the high school, community college, and university level until this year, when I took some time to pursue a post-graduate certificate (again, at LU; I have an all-State education!) in adolescent development. I’m currently neck-deep in a seminar paper about DOMA and LGBTQ issues in this current election cycle.
I’m writing to you because I have discovered, through both casual observation and focused introspection, that I’m passionate about social causes. Just about every class discussion was grounded in figuring out why things happen to people the way they do, in identifying what forces are in place that cause them (and how we do or do not perpetuate those systems), and in exhorting students to think critically and to find – and use – their voices. My friends have told me that I’m the first person they go to when they need information about an issue, or when they want someone to help them work through their thinking about one thing or another. My whole life has been spent as an outspoken and unapologetic LGBTQ ally and, separately, a strong pro-choice advocate. A significant part of my identity is wrapped up in being socially conscious and energetic, and in teaching others to be so, too.
I wholeheartedly embraced the crazy of this past election cycle (I had time on my hands, after all) and I found myself being frustrated, again and again, by the lack of knowledge that was being utilized by my friends and acquaintances. I posted about a zillion things on my facebook page (some of which I’m sure you saw) and tried to direct people to thoughtful, accurate sources for the information they lacked. I spoke to people, I enlisted former students into the voting rolls, and volunteered with the local Obama campaign.
I want to do more of that. I guess what I’m asking you is this; where would I look to find an employment opportunity that would use my passion, my teaching skills (I am an excellent and enthusiastic teacher, particularly of teenagers), and my research, writing, and speaking abilities in a position where I can feel like I’m making a difference? I’m not a naive 20-something; I understand that one person doesn’t go out and set the world on fire. I do believe, however, that one person can set off a ripple that reaches farther than that person ever imagined it could, and I feel like I am a significant pebble that could make some really wonderful waves if I could just find the right pond.
So, there you have it. I’m outspoken, energetic, committed, and thoughtful. I’ve got some significant work experience and I care about the job that I do. I’m personable, easygoing, and eager to learn. I need something to do with all this energy. Got any suggestions?
Thank you so much for taking this time for me. I really, really appreciate it.
I’ll let you know what she says.