Friday, June 5, 2009

Def Confessions of an AAPD Intern

Week Won

Tuesday, June 2, was the big day. It marked the fears of every broke college kid, the day we are ready to brave the workforce in our trade of interest. Assigned an IT position with the Asset Management (AM) division under the Federal Railroad Administration, I hastily made my way to Department of Transportation (DOT) Headquarters. Best believe I was already worrying about every insignificant detail you could think of as I approached the newly-constructed building, from missing my Metro stop to the first impression.

I finally made my way to the main building, where I anxiously waited to be escorted to my work area. To my surprise, my escort was armed with pen and paper as she scribbled down her greetings and welcomed me to DOT Headquarters. I didnt expect her to take initiative in immediately facilitating written communication; most people assume that I can lipread. Why? I havent the faintest clue. Most people cant lipread me when I move my lips, so what makes them think I can do the same?

Setting off the metal detectors at security, my escort guided me through and immediately put my fears to rest. She didnt attempt to speak to me but continued to write to me as we walked to her office. There, she shocked me again as she handed me a Ubi Duo machine. I had never seen or played with such an item before; she turned it on and one for herself. Before I knew it, my screen was lit up with her warm welcome. I could instantaneously see what she was typing and although it took me a bit to figure it out so could she with mine. Not only was I intrigued by the product, but I was pleased to find that my arrival at DOT was well-awaited and prepared for. It really seemed as if they were expecting me and making suitable accommodations beyond my requests. All of this attention to details really curved my anxiety.

As she prepared to give me a tour of the building and my work area, we placed the machines aside and she took her trusty pen and paper. Although she didnt understand American Sign Language (ASL), she seemed to read me very well. She took me around until she introduced me to my supervisor. Once again, everyone I met seemed very friendly and made me feel welcome; I even met one deaf co-worker who sat across my office. Yes, I couldnt believe it; they set aside a cubicle for me already... I was definitely feeling welcome. My escort told me to come see her again for lunch. As lunch approached, I found her and she and her boss both accompanied me to the cafeteria for lunch. They both brought a pad of paper and pen to communicate with me throughout lunch; I wasnt expecting such thoughtfulness and assertion, but I definitely enjoyed it as I got to know them better over lunch.

Day One was over before I knew it. Short and sweet, and I was really in awe of the people and their efforts. They seemed to adapt to me without a flinch and that was a great feeling especially for my first day. Day Two continued with me meeting faces and becoming acquainted with my co-workers. I had already been assigned a laptop and work e-mail so I was pretty much up to speed. The second day I actually shadowed my supervisor who's a very active person always on the go and in-between meetings so that was a change of scenery and I thoroughly enjoyed it. By my third day, I think I was becoming popular with security because it seems I'd set off the metal detectors every morning. My supervisor and many others continued to ask me what I'd like to do which is also refreshing because they want me to benefit from this internship as much they do. I'm still trying to discover my niche, but I have no doubt that the AM group will aid me in my endeavors. Consider week one accomplished.

Sheiba Tafazzoli

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