Oberlin Blogs

I Think We'll Make It After All

August 13, 2010

Alice Ollstein ’10

I couldn't believe my luck when the Oberlin Admissions Office asked me three years ago if I wanted to write about myself for pay. Now, many classes, adventures, triumphs, and heartbreaks later, I have to write my last blog post.

Talk to anyone from my class and they'll tell you they're still figuring things out. There's a hint of anxiety under the smiles. An uncertainty about the future. I'm in the same boat. However, I wanted to use this last post to talk about how proud I am of what my fellow 2010 Obies have achieved and explain a bit of what I'll be doing in the fall.

As I wrote in my last post, I've been splitting my time this summer between National Geographic--where I've been working with my Obie boss on a radio show about travel and wildlife--and doing communications work for the School of the Americas Watch. But these wonderful opportunities are only temporary, so I've been applying for jobs like crazy. I've asked various mentors of mine in the journalism world for advice on my resumé, sent out my English and Spanish clips to every newspaper and radio station in D.C., and networked like mad. It all paid off when I was offered a reporting position with Capitol News Connection, a radio wire service that produces stories for NPR-affiliated stations around the country. Come September I'll be running around the marble halls of Congress in heels trying to get frazzled senators to give me a soundbite. Luckily my boss at National Geographic, proud Oberlin grad Ben Shaw, used to work at CNC and has a wealth of advice for surviving the grueling job. He's been incredibly supportive this summer, teaching me new skills, including me in everything, and giving me creative license on several projects. Here we are reporting from the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America (I'm taking the picture):

Any Obie interested in radio should definitely consider interning with Ben in the future.

Now on to my talented, wonderful friends. This short list doesn't come close to doing justice to all the accomplishments of the Class of 2010, but these are people I've spent time with recently and who have been on my mind. Please comment to give shout-outs to others doing great work.

I visited New York City a couple weekends ago (an Obie mecca if there ever was one) and was lucky to catch a tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art led by my dear friend and former roommate Nathaniel Mich.

I know I'm biased, but I can honestly say it was the best museum tour I've ever been on. It was fun, informative, got us away from the standard masterworks, and spanned different eras and cultures. And he just got a much-deserved paid internship with the Met for January, this time with the Accessibility Department! For those interested, Oberlin has a sweet museum docent training program and an art collection so incredible the Met begged to be able to borrow a bunch of our best works while the school's museum is under renovation.

Another friend I'm very proud of is Jessye Weinstein, my confidante and partner-in-shenanigans all through the Border Studies Program.

She's up in her hometown of Boston right now, teaching a class she designed herself for a well-known immigrants rights organization called Centro Presente in Spanish for Social Justice. I saw the syllabus she designed, which begins: "We will explore vocabulary and grammatical structures through thematic units that address larger issues of social justice, such as food sovereignty, the roots of migration, development theory, and free trade." I wish I had learned Spanish like this! After seeing the ExCo syllabus Jessye designed to bring what we learned on Border Studies back to Oberlin, I'm not in the least surprised, but still impressed.

Also in the category of using your talents to help a cause, my friend Kat Leonetti, who served with me on the Nicaragua Sister Partnership Committee, has been donating her artistic skills to various causes. I contacted her to create some original artwork for the SOA Watch fall newsletter and she created a beautiful piece:

Kat taught an incredible ExCo at Oberlin in in activist art, which collaborated with the Nicaragua committee on a banana awareness campaign, and she's hoping to serve as a volunteer in Central America with ArtCorps in January.

How do we do it? What's the secret to so much butt-kicking? Well, for one, we help one another out. Older, wiser Obies in D.C. have given me tons of job advice, leads, housing tips, etc. But most importantly, I think Oberlin is a great training ground--a safe space to practice, say, teaching a class, or starting a magazine, or running a non-profit. We try our hand at these things while in the cozy confines of a college town so that when we are dragged, kicking and screaming, out into the real world, we know how to make things happen.

I realized while writing this post that things have come full circle in a beautiful way. This blog began as a way to be paid to do what I love and my final post is about being paid to do what I love. Thank you, Oberlin, for a beautiful four years. I'm sure we'll see each other soon.

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