For a long time I thought of wanting to do more...wanting to make a difference but I had no idea where to start. I had a graphic design degree, was working as a waitress, taking film classes, and really searching to create a more meaningful life.
My first experience came over ten years ago volunteering teaching ESL to a Kurdish refugee woman. I had approached a refugee organization here in Portland and asked if they had any volunteer positions. I had no training but I was eager to try and help. They told me there was a woman who had been asking for someone to teach her English for over a year and a half.
I soon learned however, that although learning English was important to my new student, making a new female friend in the comfortable environment of her own home- was a deeper desire. She had felt very alienated in her apartment while her husband went off to work. Although she had two children she longed to work herself and feel more comfortable in her new country. We struggled a lot trying to communicate at first but I could tell how important my visits were and I learned so much about Iraq, her family, and her customs.
Over time I did a very very short first documentary film for a class I was taking (we're talking 3 minutes long) about her son going to Head Start. He was only 5 years old and up until his first day of school he had been very shy and angry. Finally getting to be in school made him come alive. He learned english quickly and was so happy playing with is new friends. I was amazed at the transformation. What I thought was just his character, had more to do with his circumstances.
I learned a lot about isolation and how simple it can be to reach out to someone and to extend a part of who we are. To make that simple human connection can make the difference between thriving and just surviving.
It was then I knew how important "connection & creativity" was in my life. I knew if I kept that concept in the forefront of my mind that it would guide me to the life I was searching for and the role I wanted to take part in.