Week 4:
Outside my 10 Blocks

Massey Fellow in Development & Civic Empowerment

The Obama Foundation | Chicago, Illinois

February 9, 2019

This week, I dedicated time to exploring and moving away from the 10 blocks I walk each day. I ate new foods, spent time with new friends, and visited new places. Even in the winter, the city feels so fresh, and I am pushing myself to do and see more.

I went to the diner Lou Mitchell’s in West Loop with my roommates. Immediately, when we walked in, we were greeted by an older lady who placed donut holes in our hands. The diner is known for their baked goods. The place was super busy, and the intercom system was continuously switching on and off, as birthdays were announced, and everyone in the restaurant serenaded the guests who were celebrating a birthday. After my banana pancakes, we visited the Shedd Aquarium. It’s a pretty big deal. We attended the aquatic show, and spent the afternoon walking through the rooms of tanks of beautiful creatures. I absolutely loved it.

This week, I also attended a Zumba class at the gym near work. I’m not new to Zumba; I spent most Monday nights at the mall in Chitre, Panama this past summer, taking advantage of the free classes. But this Zumba class this week was a new level of dancing. The music and the pace were incredible. And a lot of the women were clearly devoted to Laticia’s Tuesday night classes, and were always exactly on step with Laticia. I have a lot of space for improvement, but it was exciting.

My work is steady now and it feels important. There is a mantra  around the office that has been mentioned every week since I arrived. It’s this idea that encourages everyone to think of how each task and project we take on relates to the broader goals and mission of the Foundation. This is something I struggled with at first, because my tasks are small in comparison to my co-workers, and I was intimidated by the incredible work of everyone else. But more and more, I am relating my tasks to the highest point; how might this empower, connect, and inspire people? Sometimes, I can’t trace my impact all the way up to the mission. But sometimes I discover, in my thoughts, the points of contact through people or projects that carry my work all the way up. I’m now trying to translate this to my future. As I’m beginning the job search and application process, I think about the organization or the position under consideration. How does this relate to my personal career goals? What can I learn in this position? What could I do with that knowledge? Of course, it’s all hypothetical now, and similarly to my speculation at work, I can only incorporate the knowledge I currently possess. But it keeps my brain moving, and I like that challenge.

These panels have been signed by people from a number of events at the Foundation.

Elizabeth Mombello '19

Elizabeth is a sociology and Spanish major from Overland Park, Kansas.