Settling in

So week two of the settling in process is ending.  So far I have spent last week in eight-hour trainings, the majority which didn’t apply to me and my job site.  I got to casually get a finger on the pulse of my Ameri Corps group and start to feel out people’s personalities.

I feel a great sense of disconnection with the majority of the group – culturally – experience wise I know and understand more what the expectations of my site are going to be.  I went to my retreat with my Ameri Corps group and already individuals within the group are self segregating.  Once again- all the black kids are sitting together in the cafeteria and not opening up to any outsiders.  I know the underlying cause of this is fear of the unknown and seeking out people who mirror your life experience.  Still I can’t help but feel like highschool is back in session and feel all those feelings and insecurities start to rise to the surface once again.

So I found myself wandering to meet different people among the many people who came to attend the retreat.  As a young kid, this is one of my coping mechanisms if some people make you uncomfortable – seek a group that don’t make you feel that way.  So I found a group of people who while abrasive on the outside – were really much better to sit with than any other group because I know in small part where they are coming from- the transgender and gay population among our larger group.  I know they are probably wondering, “Why the heck does the Muslim girl keep sitting with us?” but its a small piece of security in knowing other people’s insecurities.  I also felt like by having someone more experienced sit with them- it might give them a bit of a confidence boost and make them feel more accepted.

I also challenged stereotypes and raised some eyebrows by breaking out my hijabi swimsuit for a communal swim with my fellow Ameri Corps members.  Oh you should have seen their faces when I came walking down the path to the swimming pool.  Eyebrows went north and jaws went South while the tongues started wagging.  Poor life guards didn’t know what to make of me.  One of my group members said, “you look like you’re getting ready to scuba dive.”  I said, “No.. just cool off and swim a bit.” There was a game of water basketball already underway when I hopped in and did a few laps.  I then decided to join them since they seemed to be having so much fun.  I could tell those who were already playing were a bit hesitant to let me play – as I was the only burqini wearing person in the pool.  Soon enough the competitive spirit of the game took over and everyone forgot that I was wearing a different kind of swim suit and that I was a Muslimah – they were more concerned with the fact I played a great person to person defense and could block the jump shot of their tallest player in the pool.

My over prepared self was also able to give first aid to another injured member who ended up having to leave early to get X-rays taken of their shin because they walked directly into an unmarked spigot.  One word :OUCH!  Good thing I packed my first aid kit- along with an extension cord, fan , two pillows, bug spray, Swiss Army knife  and a flashlight among other things.   My mama taught me to always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

As of now I have worked two days on my actual job site and so far I feel like a lazy person.  I know that partially it’s that they haven’t had time to brainstorm how to really use my skills or come up with projects.  However I hate being bored as I know many people do – so I ended up creating my own busy work – by doing a whole revamp of the job posting board.  My boss says she will have some work projects for me when I get back from Chicago.  I am interested in seeing what she came up with.  I also at this point won’t have a work space – meaning my own desk and computer until October – which sucks big time.  Lets just hope I get the REALLY cushy chair then.

I helped with the paycheck distribution on Friday and that was a ZOO.  I think my skills of creating work flows will really help this among other processes.

So still things are slowly starting off… and inshaAllah things will go well 🙂

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