My last update was in February. I’m back and stronger! I survived wind and snow. There are changes to my work life: I received a job offer and ran my first ever poetry workshops. I’m still standing, still immigrant.
I’ve been working at a consulting agency since the middle of February. The position isn’t exactly what I first figured it would be, but I’m part of the communications team. I do zero work related to immigration. I have a lengthy commute. I have a team that sends animal pics in team chats. This jobs keeps me emotionally muted, except for the reminder that I’m under a temporary contract.
Within a few weeks, I may or may not have this job. Fortunately, this is a nice fit for the temporary protected status (TPS) immigrant because I don’t know if this country will let me work next year. Unfortunately, this also means that I’ll be on the job market and back to related frustrations.
First Poetry Workshops
In February, I led my first poetry workshops as a Split This Rock teaching artist. One workshop was part of the Hyper Bole 2018, where I introduced high school and college students to immigration topics and poetry on language and crossing the border. I also started a series workshop at a middle school.
I had to change my entire work schedule to make up the hours needed for the middle school poetry workshops. This meant waking up around 6am instead of 7am. And you know what, reader, it was all worth it.
I have also started Jonathan B. Tucker’s Teaching Artist Training Program, a series of classes by teaching artists for teaching artists on self-marketing, teaching strategies, and poetry practice. For a few hours on a typical Sunday, a small group of teaching artists assemble to learn about the art of teaching poetry. I’m learning a lot about teaching, and to my small surprise, self-care.
Poetry is a very personal endeavor, and for many poets, what’s on the page is a peek into our emotional or intellectual preoccupations. To go into a room of strangers and teach poetry is almost equivalent to public nudity. It takes a lot of guts.
I’ve been trying to fly a kite for a few months now. As part of the Cherry Blossom Festival, there’s a Kite Festival at the National Mall. This was my first year attending. After some failure at the festival and with the help of some friends, I was able to fly a kite.
This was also my first year at Split This Rock’s Poetry Festival. Due to my work schedule, I missed out on workshops, but I volunteered for a featured reading where I met poet Javier Zamora. I also stopped by the Book Fair where I picked up 2 complimentary copies of The Northern Virginia Review: two of my poems appear in the spring issue!
To celebrate National Poetry Month, I’ve been reading and writing poetry. It’s a good thing because over the course of this month, there’s been a lot of bloodshed across the world, a lot of wrong in the world, and most recently, Nepal’s TPS designation was ended. That’s the 5th country that has lost TPS under the current Administration.
I have been removed from a lot of the activism around immigration these past months. This is part of my self-care, so I hope it doesn’t mean people have forgotten I’m an immigrant. Congress must still be held accountable for the future of immigrant lives.
Featured Image: Found in a George Washington Middle School hallway / Alexandria, VA
Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and El Salvador have lost TPS and lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online.