On the 14th of this month I began my work life.
This involves getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning and taking several buses to get to work by 8 o’clock sharp.
Where I work is called ORACEN, which is an office responsible for environmental regulation and nuclear security.
While my dreams of doing research and being surrounded by reagents have been put on hold; in the meantime I’m learning how to fill out forms and do paperwork.
I’m ready to put in my three years of “social service,” which is obligatory work for the government – otherwise my university degree would be invalidated.
This requirement is fulfilled anywhere you’re placed by the ministry under which your university belongs. In my case, the school where I studied was INSTEC (the Superior Institute of Science and Applied Technologies), which is under CITMA (the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment).
Social service, some say, is a way of repaying the government for our “free” university studies.
Leaving aside the fact that my work for the next 36 months will be reading and filling out papers — important papers, but papers nonetheless — I have to say that I was lucky.
My first impression is that I’m surrounded by responsible and easy-going people.
Over the few days I’ve been here, they’ve talked with me about what my job will consist of and how I should do it.
They’ve encouraged me so that I wouldn’t torment myself in the face of so many papers. One person said to me something like: “Don’t worry. Someone with no more than a ninth grade education can do this.”
After hearing that phrase, my eyes welled up. The co-worker had really been trying to make me feel better, but she achieved the exact opposite. Like her, I had not only studied to the ninth grade, but I had continued studying for eight more years.
One nice thing is that the people who surround me belong to my same social class. I still haven’t heard the sound of a single cell phone and everyone seems concerned about having enough to eat, so there’s no looking over people’s shoulders.
Relations of respect and cordiality appear to have been established, so I couldn’t feel more comfortable.
One important thing is that by contract my monthly wage is 275 pesos ($13 USD), so I still don’t know how I’m going to make it to the end of the week, much less the end of the month.
Right now I’m hoping they can fix the computer they assigned me but that still hasn’t booted up.
Still, despite these shortcomings, here I am – where I’ll try to do a good job and make an effort to better myself as a professional.