Saturday, August 1, 2009

Doffing My Work Suit By Fabio Botarelli

I am going to be frank when I say this but I am not going to miss donning a suit every morning in 80 plus degree weather while being squashed into a confined subway car like a canned sardine during my trips to the Hart Senate building. But what I am going to miss is the cerebral experience of my work and the supervisor who brought out the best in me. This Thursday, July 30th I attended a hearing on gang violence in native American reservations. It was to be my last hearing though because my last work day was on July 31st and there were no hearings that Friday. Indian affairs are among the most underrated issues in the political arena, but sometimes it is the underrated issues that can emerge as the major issues if they are not addressed immediately. It has been estimated that the average age of an Indian gang member is 15 years old and getting younger. Gang members are young as eight are being trained to sell drugs. As part of their daily activities gangs partake in sexual assault, gang rape, drive bys and disrespectful behavior towards elders. To help uncover the harrowing and disruptive influence of gang violence, Hermis John Mousseau of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council released a youth survey in April and May of this year. Exactly 1137 students of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation schools were participants of this survey. Out of all these students, 55% surveyed reported to being a victim of gang related activity and 72% reported to having been personally threatened by a gang or gang member. Only 65% reported that they felt safe from gang activity at school and a shocking 35% felt safe from gang related activity in their own immediate community. In the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, police have identified at least 39 gangs, which in total consist of 5,000 members; a sufficient number considering that the total population of this reservation is 50,000. After finishing this memo the following day, I had a terse conversation with the supervisor Anna Fodor. I thanked her for giving me a lot of autonomy over my work, such as permission to work in the library of Congress in which I was given no supervision. One of the most important lessons that I learned from working in DC was that you had to earn people’s “trust.” Had Anna Fodor thought that I was going to dilly dally in that library, she would have not sent me there in the first place. When people enter the workforce they usually find themselves under the supervision of a domineering boss of dogmatic attitudes who watches over their employees like a hungry vulture. But Anna Fodor was no such person. Although we were merely interns, she saw each of us as competent individuals and to show my appreciation I promise to be just as lenient and respectful to my employees when I secure a position of power one day

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