Saturday, June 16, 2012

Internship, NCIL Conference, and the Air Force Memorial

I have so many things floating through my brain right now. I’m not sure which things to grab on to, focus in on and write about in a coherent manner. I guess this is my attempt to warn you that this post might be a little interesting—or messy.
First, I want to say that I love my internship! So, I haven’t gotten security clearance yet and this had led to some maneuvering by my supervisor but she is really good at maneuvering, it seems! I love my internship because I am doing things that matter both for the Department of Homeland Security and the disability community. This week I finished a project where I created two separate presentations on the reasonable accommodation policies for the department. The goal of these presentations was to take the policy that is being drafted and turn it into an interactive and communicative process. One presentation was for employees and the other was for managers/supervisors. So far, my supervisor is very happy with them. We may even get to pilot the presentations before the summer is over. As, I was finishing up the projects, I thought to myself; I guess it’s good I learned how to communicate after all!
Second, I want to talk about the panel I went to at the NCIL conference last week on Women in leadership. The panel opened my eyes to so many things, broke my heart and angered me, particularly; the information and stories about violence against woman with disabilities. The story that made my blood boil and tears run down my face was the story of a woman with a disability who lived in a nursing home. Her disability made her unable to communicate and she was raped. The only reason people found out she had been raped was because she became pregnant. I am a sexual assault and rape survivor and I was silent because of fear and shame. In the case of the non-communicative woman in the nursing home her rapist took advantage of her physical silence, he didn’t even have to work at her to keep her silent. This infuriated me and unfortunately showed me that I am not alone and that women with disabilities are victims and survivors of violence against them.
            At the end of the panel they asked us to write down something we were going to do with what we learned. I was stumped at first but then they encouraged us to link up with other groups they may not be actively involved with the disability community. That was when something clicked in my brain. I realized that I am a strong Christian and m faith continually plays a strong role in my life. I have never heard of much in church about people with disabilities or the issues we face. As a matter of fact, it took me a while to find a church in Philadelphia that was even accessible. I know that I am a Christian for a reason and I don’t want to waste it. I am not sure what I can do about it but I want at least my denomination to become aware of and do something about the issues facing people with disabilities. I wrote at the bottom of my notes from the panel that I would e-mail my pastor back home and the disability ministries coordinator to tell them what I have been learning here. That is next on my list tonight.
            Last, mostly too end on a lighter mote, I went to the Air Force Memorial with a friend of mine last night. I love my country and am so thankful for our servicemen. The Air Force honor Guard was there. They were twirling and throwing around M-9’s with bayonets at the end. I hope they don’t practice with those when they first start! The Air Force Band played as well. They were amazing! For the sake of my brother who serves in the Navy I am hoping to see the Navy band perform before I leave for home. (Although he is married to an Air Force woman!) 

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