Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cedar Rapids - Day Zero

In light of the fact that I'm on a week long trip to Cedar Rapids, this is going to be an attempt at some kind of journal of my experience while I'm here. I brought my laptop for evening use and have discovered that while my wireless connection works somewhat consistently, Facebook's connection is much less so. This way I'll be able to say my piece and others can comment - just not as much in real time as if it were on Facebook. Plus the photo upload function may work here (Facebook has been having issues with their's all week).

When Trouble went off to Air Force basic training (they don't call it boot camp, just FYI), she learned about this great concept of "zero week." They tell you that the training will take x number of weeks, but your first week there isn't week one - it's week zero. It doesn't really county even though you're definitely noticing that you're there and pretty much in shock over just how much NOT like anywhere else this is going to be. With today being our drive up here and an evening on a college campus in a strange town, I'm considering this day zero. We don't really know what we've gotten ourselves into yet but know that this is definitely not like being "back home." Everyone here is somehow related to Habitat for Humanity and/or AmeriCorps. Most people are AmeriCorps members - 500+ of them. The rest of us are affiliate staff (AmeriCorps site coordinators oversee the members at their individual sites, making sure that AmeriCorps rules and protocol is followed, handling paperwork, etc.), Habitat International staff or there are a small number of AmeriCorps alumni.

I myself am a site coordinator AND an alumni and yet I still feel like I fit in more with the AmeriCorps members. Trouble and I discussed this a little bit this morning. I have a hard time seeing myself as an "adult" in charge of things, responsible and in a position of leadership. It's strange because I have no problem seeing myself that way in other areas of my life, but with Habitat and work in general, I seem forever stuck in "idealistic student" mode. It seems odd to me that as the low man on the Habitat KC totem pole and someone who was "just" an AmeriCorps last year, I'm now someone who knows more and is in charge of other people. Am I the only one who struggles with this? Does it go away at some point?

Right now three of my four members are out at a little dive bar just off campus, drinking cheap (and probably nasty) beer, singing karaoke and having some fun being away from the office. They invited me along but I chose to opt out. Yes, part of that is due to my disgust for beer and dreading the embarassment of karaoke but I also feel like I need to give them their space away from me and all things related to Habitat KC. This is a week away from all of that and a chance for them to just hang out and bond with each other in a way they can't at work. I also feel like I need to distance myself a little more from them than I have. The fact is that I'm not a member anymore and I'm not in the same place in life where they are. I don't feel that much older than them, but I AM. I just need to accept it and start acting like it. :)

So that's where I am at the end of this evening. Tomorrow the rest of the participants in Build-a-thon will arrive from all over the US and we'll have our Opening Ceremonies. Kurt Warner, NFL quarterback from the Arizona Cardinals, will be here all week since he's originally from Cedar Rapids. If you're watching ESPN and see anything about him and the project here, let me know! I know Cedar Rapids has had all kinds of local news coverage about him and us coming here. Our goal is to build 20 new houses this week, part of the flood recovery efforts. It's been exactly one year since the river crested at 21.5 feet above normal and there's still quite a bit of evidence around town. I'll be posting pictures later in the week. I'm going to be out on a construction crew building one of those houses - a big change from my normal week of work and something I'm really looking forward to. Now for some rest and a little Indigo Girls to set the mood: "Gotta get out of bed, grab a hammer and a nail, learn how to use my hands, not just my head..."

1 comment:

Kim in KCK said...

I had a similar conversation with a friend of mine when I was a 32 year-old department manager for the city. I had a BS and MS in civil engineering and I felt like one of these days they would find out that I really didn't know as much as they thought I did. I thought the insecurity was a woman thing, but one of my male colleagues of about the same age, and also highly placed in his company, said he felt the same way. We decided it must be an age thing.

By the time I was forty, I had a much better sense of myself, and figured out that it was okay that I didn't know everything. I'm 47 now, but I still feel 27 sometimes. And I've decided that's's only a number.

It's okay to relate well with the people that you are supervising, just remember that you actually do know a little more than they do.

Hope this helps.