Friday, July 20, 2012

Finding Our Version of Home in the World | NCWD/Youth ? The ...

Whether academic or creative, writing has always been a passion of mine.? It has been my saving net in the challenging and beautiful moments of my life.? As a poet, I try to incorporate all sorts of imaginative writing.? This is one type of writing.

?But you are a great writer,? I say.
?I know,? he says playfully. ?But I?d be even greater if I lived in Brooklyn Heights.?
?I think Norman?s in Provincetown this summer,? I say.
?Even better!? Gore roars. ?Maybe I?d be great if I lived in Provincetown.?

Does location determine if you are a great writer or not?
It definitely helps bring a different aura to your depth.
But you must visualize yourself in better circumstances.
I think out of all the places I have been at,
my writing has flourished.
However, location does not assist that thinking.
Sometimes, though if the sun hits the historic buildings just right,
where you feel that your spirits have been lifted,
and your mind is ready,
then the unclenching process begins.

When you think about home, what do you see?? Do you visualize yourself with the ones you love?? On TV shows, there is a central meeting place for every character. ?On Friends, it was the coffee house. ?On Seinfeld, it was Monk?s Diner. ?On Golden Girls, it was the kitchen.? I always found this interesting.? No matter what was going in their lives, they found time to debrief about their day.? Granted, these are fictional characters but somehow we are drawn to their stories.? As people, we try to search for a place that is for us where we can contribute and make our mark.

So what does this mean? ?As a young professional working in DC, I have seen location play a central role in people?s decisions. ?I am currently interning at the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor. ?My projects involve the Workforce Recruitment Program, which is a unique opportunity for current students and recent graduates to be employed at federal agencies and sub-agencies. ?It has been an interesting experience to be learning the complexities of government.? Every day is a learning experience. Sitting in on committee and team meetings, I watch as everyone involved plays a unique role in making sure that the team is accountable and responsible for each other.? In these scenarios, location really is meeting spots, check-in sessions, and lunch areas.? What is also interesting is that sometimes it is the same place.

Prior to this internship, I sat on local boards and commissions dealing with youth. For example, one commission was with California Health Incentive Improvement Project (CHIIP).? This youth commission was responsible for youth transitions and health benefits.? In this sense, this is not a new experience. However, it has and is a new development in my progressing journey.

When I think about location, it is a place that everyone draws to for comfort and conversation. Location can mean a number of things whether it deals with business or pleasure. I find that for youth, or at least the ones that I?ve had the pleasure of working with through the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) and other partners, location is very important. I think that is a way for people to come together and dialogue about their stories.

Personally, I?ve experienced a lot of changes in location. I moved around from place to place, including across the globe and throughout California.? With every move, I have stumbled upon vital connections each time. One important nexus was during my undergrad years at Sacramento State University where I discovered the Multicultural Center (MCC). The MCC aims to build sustainable relationships and encourage cross-cultural awareness in order to cultivate? a socially just community. The reason this was a unique place for me was that I felt that everyone was involved in creative efforts such as exhibits and lectures. I was able to introduce great events like Coffee Talk and Women & Body Image.? Both of these events gave members the space to speak freely through art and expression.

While helping to coordinate these events I realized how important it is for people to understand their skills and talents through other means. Having a place where these things were possible only helped the inventive process. From these experiences I met all kinds of people; people I may not have met if I have not chosen to walk through those doors. And when I chose to open the door I was welcomed with open arms. Through these positive interactions, my experiences were elevated because I was accepted within a larger community.? Everybody wants to belong; not only belong but contribute something of worth.

Being a part of community is essential to youth development.? Youth need to be encouraged to find somewhere they can provide insight, have meaningful discussions, and be heard.? Aristotle mentions ?we are social beings for a reason.?? It is our thirst for company.? I have learned through my involvement in many organizations that youth need to be an integral part of the community.? For some youth it is difficult to initially make that connection with someone.? In the end, it goes back to the idea of home.? At first, it starts out as a location.? But through trust and friendship, that location turns out to become a home.? My resolve is that all should find their version of home.

I end with this quote.

?It?s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn?t even exist?You won?t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself.?

~Garden State

Related Resources:

By Sara R. Vogler, Intern at the U.S. Department of Labor?s Office of Disability Employment Policy.?

NCWD/Youth works to ensure that transition age youth are provided full access to high quality services in integrated settings to gain education, employment, and independent living.


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