Meaningful Work

In the midst of my graduation from a Master’s program and job searching, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of work a) that I want to do, b) that I’m qualified for, and c) that I’ll settle for.

At the time that I applied for grad school, I spent a lot of time thinking about the ways that stories told by Asian Americans are marginalized and lost– college papers written but never read (let alone published), Asian language newspapers that weren’t being digitized, stories buried with generation that never told them, etc. I wanted to make sure that Asian American primary and secondary sources got the care and attention that they deserved.

While I was in library school, I met some really cool people who approach diversity and information sciences from different directions– a multicultural librarian who taught Asian American Studies and information literacy at a community college; several children’s librarians devoted to making multicultural literature available to multicultural families; a medical librarian who managed a project that produced culturally sensitive patient information (like a guide to cooking traditional Cambodian food while managing diabetes); and two MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Sciences) students who built a site to help deportees find basic resources in Mexico.

I envisioned starting up my own library, one that combined multi-lingual books for/by/about Asian Americans, archived community histories, and hosted public events like children’s story times and open mics.

But I’ve graduated now. I’m working temporary jobs to pay the bills and wondering when my ship will come in. So I find myself thinking a lot about how I can advocate for underrepresented communities and resources no matter where I find myself. Because working with diversity doesn’t have to mean finding a job with a kickass organization committed to social justice and equality (although that would be great). But it does mean finding a way to pursue social justice and equality within all kinds of organizations.

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2 thoughts on “Meaningful Work

  1. Hear hear. How do we find the social justice effort one every line of work? Am I selling out when I start working for a mainstream organization that feels more corporate than grassroots? I’ve been thinking about that a lot in my job search and now that I’ve accepted a job. Life experience really shifted my idealism to pragmatism. But I miss my idealistic spirit sometimes. It was more raw, more passion-driven, more meaningful in some ways. Good luck, Mols! Hope you find something.

  2. Congrats on employment! I like the way you phrase that, idealism and pragmatism. I’ve been thinking about that in terms of institutionalization. Setting procedures, protocols, traditions, etc. in place helps us make the most of our time as organizers. We can take those things for granted when they’re institutionalized, leaving our minds and time free to have a larger impact. But what do we lose when we start to institutionalize protocols and procedures? When we no longer have to think critically and deeply about each of our actions…Is that where organizations tend to feel more like corporations than grassroots efforts?

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