BY JOCELYN TRAINER
When I first applied to be a Loretto Volunteer I had a certain feeling of excitement and hope of what social justice work would look like. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think I would be running around D.C. in a cape saving people and enacting changes right and left.
I did at least think I would be able to feel like I was contributing some form of good to the world. I assumed that though the work would be hard, it would feel rewarding, ignite my passion, and most importantly give me a sense that I was where I belonged. Along with these things that I wanted for myself, I truly did want to learn how to make the world a better place and become an ally of those continuously oppressed and trodden upon. However, when I got to D.C. and started my job, my excitement and shiny, happy image of social justice work deflated a bit.
What surprised me most is that my job almost felt like every other office job I’ve had. I sit at a desk, five days a week, feeling like I am not contributing enough to the people in need, our world, or making complete use of the bachelor’s degrees I just worked my butt off for. My workplace does do amazing work, and I actively contribute, but it still did not feel like enough given how many issues our nation and world faces today.
My work revolves around raising and allocating funds for our local partners in Nicaragua and Haiti. Once again, our local partners do incredible work within their communities, but I feel so removed from the actual impactful work while I’m stuck at a desk in Maryland. It is frustrating to realize this, because part of me feels so selfish thinking this – what matters most is that the local communities we support are bettering themselves, not whether or not I find my job interesting or fulfilling.
About three weeks into the job feeling sorry for myself and guilty, I decided I needed to bring about change in order for me to find self-fulfillment and happiness through my work. It all started when I got to attend my first meeting on Capitol Hill centered around issues in Latin America. I did not speak once during the meeting, except to introduce myself, but I absorbed so much valuable knowledge. The most important nugget of information was that I have to actively seek out to find a solution to the problem, one will not just be handed to me or fall into my lap.
After the long metro ride back to the office from the meeting, I excitedly pitched my first idea for a new project in our afternoon staff gathering. My boss and the rest of the staff received my idea enthusiastically, and just like that I had my first independent project - writing a blog about Temporary Protected Status. From this moment I realized that social justice work, at least in my office, is different than different desk jobs because you have to be innovative and create your own solution at times, as well as learn from others how best to form those solutions.
Jocelyn Trainer recently graduated from Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, CA, with a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish, along with a minor in International Relations. Jocelyn is always seeking adventure, a travel enthusiast, and a animal lover. This year Jocelyn is working as the International Project Coordinator at The Quixote Center, a multi-issue social justice organization that currently focuses on promoting peace and justice in Haiti and Nicaragua.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.