I was supposed to write a post about the story behind my family’s objects on display as part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s newest exhibit, Many Voices, One Nation (will write it up, I promise), but instead I felt compelled to write about my job. I used to refer to it as my “day job” (now it’s the only job). Without giving too many specifics, I work at a college and review international student applications. I fell into the work and it kind of stuck. Well, I got stuck.
But there are days that are brighter than most.
All summer I’ve been feeling pretty low. It was a daily struggle to get up in the morning, respond to that email, review that application. I started to not care. Not care about the students. Not care if I did well or not. I don’t like not caring. Feels like you lose a bit of yourself every time it happens.
Today I met a new student from Australia and his family. I walked them around campus a bit. We talked about the county, the museums they visited in Washington, DC, America and its refusal to use the metric system (really, we should convert to metric—it makes so much more sense). Maybe it was because they asked questions about me (this rarely happens, international students and their parents being genuinely interested in me as a person). Or maybe it was their family dynamic–how they trusted their child and the school, how they believed he would have a good experience. I suddenly found myself, without realizing it, hoping the same for him.
I’m not saying this student renewed my faith in my job. There’s a lot more there I have to unpack and work through. But it was a nice reminder that I wasn’t as cold and unfeeling as I thought I had become.