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On appreciation

19 July 2011

It is not news to anyone who knows me that I have absolutely detested my job this year. I started out trying to organize the heads of various organizations who did not particularly want to be organized; that led to about four months of sheer inertia where I came to work for eight hours a day and spent all of those on Facebook, Twitter, and G-chat trying to coerce my friends who were actually doing work to entertain me. I could not stand it anymore by February, so I was reassigned to doing various administrative tasks, until another intern left and I was given her role of processing checks and writing acknowledgment letters. I have spent the whole year asking myself how I ended up doing work a monkey at a typewriter could do.

My internship program places a huge deal of emphasis on appreciation. The directors would style themselves as “inhabiting a culture of appreciation”. The program director is known for giving five pieces of positive reinforcement for every piece of criticism she has. I thought this was just a telling sign of superficiality for a while, but I now see how this degree of appreciation has made what would otherwise have been a loss of a year into something life-altering. Appreciation is core. It lets us know as human beings that we have worth and that we are valued by those around us. This is the basis for community, for right relationship, and—from a church perspective—for being a light to the world.

During our final meeting yesterday as an internship program with all the interns, directors, partners, and site supervisors, my boss did not show up. I was one of maybe three for whom this was the case. It was not important enough for my boss to come to support me. Similarly, every leaving staff person from where I work has been thrown a small party to thank them. I, on the other hand, will not. I will turn in my keys on Friday and that will be that. A year of drudgery with not so much as a “Thanks, you’ve done good work.” I do not need it from them; and, truth be told, I would probably find it fake if I were to receive it. Very little of my growth this year has been due to them, except in opposition to them.

Yet, disappointment doubles upon disappointment as I see a foundation which claims to be working for fairness, justice, and embodied love in the world take their employees’ work for granted. It is a crazy world.

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