An extremely kind message from a fellow adoptee the other day reminded me that I have not posted here since returning to New Jersey last June. “Re-entry” has been a bit more difficult than I imagined, and so here, almost a year later, I’m still living in my sister’s house, trying to get regrounded again, and this has taken up most of my energy this past almost-year.
Much of that time has been spent applying for university teaching positions. When I started complaining about this to a dear friend and former colleague who has both Columbia and Brown under her teaching belt, she replied: “I applied to 72 universities before finding my current job”. I promised her I’d wait until application #73 before getting depressed about my own situation, but my patience ran out long before that.
On that note, I think it is pretty clear that academia in the United States is incredibly ageist, as well as politically extremely conservative, despite wishing to give off the impression of being progressive and open-minded. Another dear friend and former colleague, who has had the job carpet ripped out from under his feet on more than one occasion, lamented that there is not a single academic program in the United States focused on Palestinian Studies. I remarked: “To have the word ‘Palestine’ in one’s resume is the kiss of death”. This reflects in no small way the sub-title of his book: “Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom”. Ironically, my work for the Palestinian cause was equally unwelcome in Lebanon….
And so, with this in mind, after 40+ job applications over the course of this past year, I’ve been asked to do three interviews. The first one was cancelled rather unceremoniously by the chair of the department, despite the interest of the search committee (see above paragraph); the second one was via Skype and did not advance to a second interview; the third one took place on an amazing campus in a rather bucolic region of the continent and I am currently waiting to hear whether I got the job or not. Inch’allah khayr.
Beyond that, I’ve been entering my woodblock prints in various shows and exhibitions and have been accepted and/or exhibited at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey, The St. Louis Artists’ Guild, and WCA Philadelphia. (I say “and/or” because I couldn’t afford to frame and ship to one show….) I’ve been working as an archivist for a North Jersey community college. I’ve been collaborating with Interference Archive and Just Seeds Collective. Most excitingly, I was named one of three resident printmakers at the Newark Print Shop, which is pretty much a dream come true. I’ll be working on a series of prints focusing on women in the Southwest Asian context fighting for their children.
On the adoption front, I spoke at the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture in Minneapolis last June, and have been working a bit with the local New Jersey group NJCARE. I’ve started working with a literary agent on a manuscript for a memoir of sorts. At the same time, and this brings me to the subject of this post, I’ve been hearing from many adoptees in North America who have been puzzling out their DNA results, and figuring out next steps. I’m glad to think that my stumbling efforts in this regard might save someone else any unneeded upset or additional trauma.
This also got us discussing separately the idea of forming some kind of group or association of adoptees adopted via Lebanon as a way to mutually support each other in our efforts to make sense of what happened to us, as well as the aftermath of that. I have my own ideas on the subject, but as in all my collective work, I insist on collaboration and consensus, and so would like to put some questions out there for adoptees in North or South America:
- Would you join such a group?
- How official do we wish it to be? Meaning, the European adoptees have created full-on NGOs out of their groups. Is this desirable? Why or why not?
- How formal or informal do we wish it to be? On the one end of the spectrum, we might have bylaws and charter, etc. On the other would be something approaching a flash mob…. Thoughts?
- How should it be hosted? I don’t use Facebook at all, and want to avoid a site that will be perceived as “dead” if no one is “posting” or “liking”. I’m at the end of my patience for WordPress, and resorted to programming my own web stuff out of frustration. Any ideas?
- Because there is so much territory, how do we propose meeting or supporting each other? Regional or state/nation state–based groups? I’m part of a NJ adoptee group, and meeting just in the state becomes a big deal in terms of travel….
- What would you find useful in such a group?
- How do you envision it working?
- Can you think of a better name than mine? (LOL)
Okay, I’ll leave comments open for replies; thank you in advance for your interest!