miércoles, 17 de abril de 2013

Searcher for work

Author: Erica Aladino
Nationality: Colombian
Degrees in Psychology and Social Education
Experience in: Health Education, teaching of Social and Personal Skills and social projects
* Series: Stories about skilled immigration and foreign professional women

She was very nervous in her office, breathing shortly, looking at the computer clock and glancing rapidly to the corridor.
It was obvious that Marina was expecting someone.
"Hello, I have an appointment" said a woman, supporting herself on the door frame.
Marina greeted her in a cold and formal way. "Sit down please Madam."

The lady began to talk: "Look, I have a big problem. I am an unemployed woman of more than 45 years old, and know very well that companies do not want to know anyone of my age. I have a lot of experience as a secretary and administrative worker. Do you think you will be able to help me? Is there any work in this?"

Marina replied: "Because of your personal situation, you belong to one of the so called groups in risk of social exclusion; this is a citizen involved centre of integration and our objective is to assist you with the resources that we have or direct you to other suitable assistance."
Whilst Marina was telling her this, she was looking at the woman's arms and elbows on the desk, looking at her dress and jacket, her nails, earrings, and her hair. All the while, below the desk, she was continuously tapping her left foot.

A few minutes past, and the woman, sitting upright, was holding on to both sides of the chair, and when she wasn't doing this, she was strumming her fingers on her skirt.
"Well, as I have said to you, the employment project that we run here looks for work for disabled people, women victims of violence and to immigrants, but because of your situation, I can include you."
At that precise moment, an email arrived to Marina's mailbox, which she read out of the corner of her eye. Marina, it's me, Ana. Is everything alright? If you need anything, just let me know. I'm very close by!
The direct look from the woman made her resume her attention to the meeting.
"Yes, yes, Miss, I understand all that you say to me, that one must help those that need it. Aye those poor ones! “Said the woman, shrugging her shoulders and clapping her hands abruptly on the table.”If you didn't help them, just see how this country would be, a barbarous one. How could you not!"

 When Marina heard the last comment, she breathed deeply, swallowed saliva and lightly snapped the fingers of her right hand. She began then to look at the job offers she had in hand.
It was clear that the girl was going through a bad spell, since at various moments that she could, she would steal a glance to the corridor, as if she wanted to run from the place.
Whilst she was reviewing the job offers, the visitor would not stop nervously from talking. With a high and screechy voice: "of all the companies that I've worked in, which are for numerous years as secretary to management of various firms and now with the crisis, they have been giving me the boot, like an old useless dog."

Marina, at the same time, remembered a telephone conversation she had received three days ago. It was when her work colleague, Rodrigo said to her:
- Marinita, you have to take this call. There is some lady, I think she is Spanish and is full of complaints in order that they close down this little place.
"And? What do I have to do with all of this?" She replied.
The lady says we are obliged to look for work for her, and as you are the one who is responsible in that area…

Marina took the phone and Rodrigo put the call on speaker, keeping his eye on his work colleague the whole time.
"I'm the person responsible for employment. Tell me how I can help you?"
"Listen, you are obliged to help me look for work. I have just spoken with a place that tells me that you help immigrants. What else do they need? They get vouchers to eat, buy books, other social assistance, and now this! No wonder they don't want to return to their own country."
Marina breathed deeply and answered: There are many various employment projects, each and every one of them directed to specific groups, including those that help locals find work. This includes the European Community and not just Spain.

"I don't care what you say. I’m fed up with the polite words and niceties. One must help me out in my desperate situation and at my poor age. I'm sick of having to go from one place to the next, like a yoyo" said the woman on the other side of the phone.
"Before you come to the office I just want to make it clear that this place is especially directed at women victims of violent crime, disabled people and immigrants, ok? I have made an appointment for you for this Thursday at 12pm. When you arrive, please ask for Marina Castaneda."

Marina continued reviewing all her paperwork, with the misfortune that she wasn't finding anything suitable, in reference to the professional profile of the woman in front of her. She was unable to concentrate in her search due to the continuous complaints she was hearing. In a high voice, she went on and on about the government, the crisis, the bad weather, and above all, the cold temperature of the office. " And why don't you put on the heating?" she exclaimed.

Touching her brow, and feeling the sweat that was pouring from her, she said: " Please give me your documentation that you have brought with you"  The woman, hesitating, glancing towards the floor, acting very nervously, looked in her bag, but before doing so asked: " so will you help me?"
Marina turned pale and answered: “it’s my job."
The woman then timidly passed over her documents, the first being her curriculum. This time, with her head hung low, and with a low voice she says: "as you will be able to see in my CV, I have work references also."

“I will help you in building and activating a search plan, looking at all avenues, knocking on many doors, so that all the companies within Madrid and its surrounding areas know of you."
Both got up, and Marina extended her hand to close the meeting and say goodbye, though the woman responded by giving her a huge hug.

"I’m Maria Teresa Beltran, I spoke with you three days ago."
"I know", answered Marina.
" And why didn't you tell me you were an immigrant?" replied the woman.

*Special collaboration and translation: Elaine Connor

Brief career summary

Erica Aladino

My education, a degree in Social Education, has allowed me to work in diverse fields such as Health Education, giving workshops on prevention and community health to both the immigrant and Spanish population. I have also been able to work as a teacher of Social and Personal Skills with groups of social exclusion, such as those with a disability.
This training brings together my other studies related to health, with the psychology degree, the occupational training and being a leisure and free time instructor has allowed me to face projects of occupational resources, active work search, orientation and work intermediation, support in leisure.

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