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...

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