December 10, 2011

All I want for Christmas...

... is you to be happy and other people to have better lives. How about that? So I decided to start a fundraiser for Somaly Mam Foundation. Somaly Mam is a sexual slavery survivor. She was sold to a brothel as a child, but heroically managed to escape. And when she did, she promised to herself that she will work to help those who were left behind. And so she founded Somaly Mam Foundation. Now - if she can do this, if she can get over what she had been through and work to help others, what's our excuse not to? None, exactly. 
And so I'm asking you, dear readers, to help me help her. I started a fundraiser whose goal is to raise $500 by my birthday. I'm not celebrating my birthday if I don't manage to raise the money. Will you help? Not me, but the 1-2 million children who will be sold to slavery within the next 12 months

Ok, let's do this. All you need to do is to click on THIS LINK which will bring you to my CrowdRise page and donate, or share the page with your friends.

Thank you!

Not really unemployed, but still searching. So what have I been up to?

I feel like I have abandoned this blog, although I never meant to. The truth is that I was hoping that soon, I'd have great news and interesting updates to put here, advice for job searchers, exciting things related to my job. And don't get me wrong, I love my job! It's fun, I work with great people and I get to do great things. 
I was thrown into the water without having been taught how to swim literally the very first day I showed up at work. Without having any idea how things work, I was sent to a meeting on the power of 1% (of the U.S. federal funding) my first day and asked to write a blog post about it (and you can read it here). I was tasked with organizing MCHIP's presence at several conferences and believe me - at first, I didn't understand half of the things I was asked to do. However, I did everything I was asked to do and more and looking back, I realize how much I've learned in such a short time.  (Not to mention the fire in the office on my third day at work...) 
And so I have worked on coordinating MCHIP's presence at:
  • The APHA Annual Meeting, where we also held a special event on the quality of care for mothers and newborns) that I helped to organize;
  • That same week, we held a special event on Continuing U.S. Investments Made in Global Health: Why It Matters More Than Ever, from which I also wrote a blog post for MCHIP (read it to see what Congresswomen ended up coming to our event!).
  • Then there was ICASA, mHealth Summit and more conferences coming.
  • I also organized all our World AIDS Day 2011 activities. We were lucky enough to be joined by Susi Wyss who came to read her story Eggs (and whose book I highly recommend). We were also  Facing AIDS with, and posted a ton of information online, including this blog post by one of our staff in South Africa.
  • Which brings me to another big part of my job - social media management! That's right, I'm pretty much in charge of MCHIP's Facebook presence and Twitter account. So like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to learn something new about global health every day. Who knows, maybe you'll be our 1000th follower? (Because that's how far I got MCHIP's Twitter! :))
  • And just a couple of days ago, another blog post written by me became the blog spotlight for now.
And that's what I've been up to. My job is part-time, but there are days when I spend 11 hours there. And then I come home and look/apply for jobs because, unfortunately, my job isn't permanent and it won't sponsor my visa. So that's what my life is about. 

August 19, 2011

Summing up my time in Pittsburgh in 2011 so far

I got back to Pittsburgh in February. I wasn't able to work for about a month as I was waiting for my work permit to arrive (I got the actual card from the Office of International Services much much later, but that's another story) and then I went back to my old job because it made sense in the short run. 

After that, I got a job at the University Center for Urban and Social Research. I learned some new skills - mainly interviewing to be precise - and once again, it made sense. In my free time, I was interning with Tickets for Kids Charities, a great organization with great people working there whose mission is to create "opportunities for underprivileged children to experience arts, cultural, educational, sporting, and family entertainment events and activities in their communities and nationwide." I loved this internship for many reasons. I enjoyed working with the TFK staff. I loved being a part of something this great, something that puts smiles on so many kids' faces. I learned new things. (I also got free tickets to John Legend's concert... :))

In the summer, I worked at the Pittsburgh Summer Dreamers Academy, a summer camp for kids from Pittsburgh in-city public schools. I did know something about Pittsburgh public schools, but I learned much more through this program. (Not to mention that working with kids teaches you something new every single day.) Through dealing with a class of 20 second and third graders, some of them with learning disabilities and emotional issues, I proved to myself that I can manage pretty much anything. It just takes patience (and trust-building). The first day felt like going through hell, but I knew - and I told "my" kids - that they could do much better. By the end of the program, they proved me right. I knew that I learned from them, they learned from me, and I'm going to miss them (hoping that they will miss me a little and that they will remember that there was someone who really cared). This experience also made my desire and dream of working in the development sector to provide affordable, accessible and high-quality education to children everywhere in the world even stronger. Because I believe, maybe more than ever, that it all starts and ends with education. And poor education isn't a problem just in the developing world...

I have created, raised fund for, organized (and soon am going to finish with a group of friends) a project that aims to empower children through arts. (Yes, I am talking about the Dream Big Pittsburgh project mentioned in the previous posts.)

And now I am on vacation. I'm housesitting my friends' friend's house, a farmhouse with a big garden, and so I have a plenty of time to eat veggies, watch butterflies and contemplate my future...

Ok, DC, here I come

Or not yet. But soon. Yes, I gave in, in a way. People have been telling me that I just HAVE TO BE IN DC to get a job and I've been against moving there for this all time. But now I am going... Do I believe they've been right all this time? Not really. But it's time to move again (yes, again - the third time this year; I've lived at more than 6 different places in the past 2 years) and since I don't have many more better options, I decided to give DC a try. I am more than ready to admit that I was wrong and they were right, believe me. Getting a job would be such a great relief. But, while I'm going with an open mind, I'm also not leaving my down-to-earth attitude in Pittsburgh. I need to be realistic about this - the job market is tough and I am a foreigner, which seems to be a disadvantage. But I can do this! See you in September, DC!

July 31, 2011

What is the previous post about?

It's about a new project I'm working on. It's called Dream Big Pittsburgh and its website with all the information can be found here). As you know, I currently work at the Summer Dreamers Public Academy. I work at Faison Elementary and the other 4 instructors and I decided to do something not stated in the curriculum, something that we believe is a really great project that can have two great results:

1. empowering our students; and
2. beautifying the Homewood neighborhood.

Your help is more than welcome!