Hello! My name is Ariella, and I am truly honored to be a member of the inaugural FEMA Corps class at the Southwest Campus!
|FEMA Corps (Glacier 5) member, Ariella Ross, was all smiles as she delivered the |
Corps Member Reflection at her Denver induction.
When we all arrived about a month ago the most famous question seemed to be “Where are you from?” But the second most famous, and perhaps more important question was “Why FEMA Corps?” For some of us the answer was easy, “I want to pursue a career in Emergency Management.” For others it was “I wanted to get away from home and try something new.” And yet others it was the pure reason of serving people and serving our country. May answer is a mix of all these things and today I would like to share with you part of my story in the hopes that it may motivate you and remind you why you decided to serve, because in any public service job, whether within the government or not, remembering your initial motivation for the job is absolutely vital for your success in the field.
It was the end of my sophomore year of college when I decided to pursue a career in Emergency Management, but the next school year I took a class that ended up being very discouraging toward my new career choice. The class was called “Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in World Affairs” and the most poignant part of the class was when we did a case study of the response in Haiti following the earthquake of 2010. We discussed the misallocation of response funds, organization and program overlap, corruption, and other social issues that were made worse by the quake. We discussed everything negative produced by the earthquake, and I seriously began to doubt the value of disaster relief and recovery as a career.
But then I had a conversation with an alum from my college that changed my entire perspective. I was expressing to him my intellectual doubts about disaster relief agencies, and he responded by saying “Well, you’ll always have doubt” and looking me straight in the eyes he said, “But don’t let that deter you from pursuing what you want to do or what you think is right.” I took those words to heart and began to intentionally seek out positivity amid crisis.
A positive outlook and a strong value for service is absolutely crucial for the type of work we’ve signed up for. Without at least a little bit of optimism you will become paralyzed with doubt and depression about our world, and I can tell you from experience that is NOT a productive or fulfilling way to live.
But I’m not saying that you should deny reality. Do social problems exist? Yes. Are they made worse by disaster? Absolutely, and yes, it’s true that some may never go away. But doing something to resolve an issue is better than doing nothing. We can’t save everyone, but the key to success is coming to terms with reality and putting 110% toward those who you can help. This year, when we enter a community recovering from disaster we may feel like we’re not making a contribution. We may not understand our purpose in a certain place and it is very likely that we will leave some places feeling like our job is unfinished (afterall, we only have 10 months). But remember that you WILL make a difference! Even if it’s only family, at least they can rest easy tonight. One organization cannot take an entire community through recover and gauging your impact is probably the hardest thing to do when you’re in the midst of your work. But the work we will do this year WILL make a difference and WILL contribute to stronger communities and a stronger America.
So, FEMA Corps Class 19B, as we approach our term of service, I challenge you to accept reality, work through your doubts, intentionally seek positivity amid the crisis and remember that your role is important. Then we can really get things done for America. Let’s go!