An Education

An Education

By: Christina Coolidge
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When I was seventeen, I was hired at a San Francisco gift shop in the Village Green Mall in Vernon, BC. It was my first part time job and all I really remember was that once the novelty of being employed had worn off, it all seemed very tedious and boring. This was the instance where I really understood that an hour spent at work was much longer than an hour spent on the beach. At this time, my shifts were only four or five hours, but it still felt like an eternity to me.

From there, I went on to many other jobs, most of which were short lived. I have worked at Subway as a ‘sandwich artist’, (I promise you, there is nothing creative or artistic about it.) I have worked in coffee shops and served in restaurants. I worked in a pin-painting factory in Alberta, where I sat at a workbench with a tiny painting gun, painting lapel pins. I worked at a call center, receiving inbound calls from American Express clients; I have been a nanny, a housekeeper and a bartender. I have worked with autistic children and worked in movie stores. I have done a little of everything, not by choice but by necessity. I think that is why I never really learned to enjoy or appreciate the work itself, just the paycheck at the end. It was the mindless monotony that always got to me. Don’t get me wrong; there were aspects that I enjoyed. I enjoyed the human connection of customer service and the kind of joy that only a happy child can provide, but I am the type of person who needs to be engaged in the creative process at all times, in some way.

I am a right-brain thinker to my core. I am emotional, intuitive and creative. I am somewhat introverted and I feel the most satisfaction when I am writing, painting, sketching, playing my guitar, singing, crocheting or anything else that enables me to draw the energy from my spirit into something tangible and original. Now that I have moved into another phase of my life, that of being a student, I am working toward the goal of graduation and finally a career. But I am enjoying my time as a student. I am one of those weird people who love writing papers. I enjoy the process, the research, and the pursuit of the perfect thesis statement. I am opinionated and stubborn and papers give me the outlet I need in order to express that. As a Communication Major, I am blessed with instructors that ask me to tell them what I think, rather than regurgitate what other people think.

In my work-study position as Indigenous Program Researcher for the Career Services department, I have been given the opportunity to write for the OLC on their Indigenous Online Learning Community. This is a work position that I create with the team as I go. (Now that’s what I’m talking about!)

We are currently preparing for the Indigenous Peoples Career Stories event in the New Year that hosts a panel of speakers sharing their career experiences. Being involved in this event not only provides me with the opportunity to learn and to expand as a human being, it also gives me the opportunity to contemplate my own career options and choices. I feel an enormous amount of gratitude at being able to use my creativity in this manner. I look forward to sharing more stories about our upcoming event; and about the unique and interesting panel we will bring to you this year, as well as, share more of my own experiences and observations of the world.

I have discovered that learning from others, is the greatest way to avoid making mistakes; and listening to others with the intention to truly understand, is the greatest way to gain a real education; after all…

“An education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he/she learned in school” (Albert Einstein).

Christina Coolidge is currently attending SFU as a Communications Major. She is the Indigenous Program Researcher with the Career Services department. Christina is a member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation and her matrilineal ancestry includes Cree and Scottish. She hopes to help build a bridge between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities in order to better understand one another and to live together in a spirit of unity.

Posted on November 11, 2013