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Natalie Vigil CGIE Interview, 12/4/13
How did you get into this field?
Why did you decide to work here?
I wasn’t really looking to get into the field of education or psychology, although both seemed interesting to me. When I met Keyvan Geula, the director of CGIE, I was intrigued by her career as a psychotherapist who integrates psychology with spirituality. I continued to build my friendship with her and learn from her wisdom and really was not expecting how much my talks with Keyvan and activities and events I attended with her were affecting my life; increasing my motivation levels, contentment with life, confidence with public speaking, amount of meaning and purpose in my life, connectedness to God and to the people around me, and overall well-being. Filled with hope, and seeing a transformation in myself, it became very clear to me that this is the way that we can transform others and contribute to the betterment of humanity and of the world. I now see it as a moral responsibility to serve and to be a part of the community-building efforts that I am involved in with CGIE.
What is a typical day on this job really like?
A typical day at CGIE is like spending time with friends and family. Discussion, reflection, meditation, planning, and training are all a part of the experience. Training and discussion topics usually include classroom/group management, articulation of thoughts and emotions, ability to develop alternative thoughts, creating an uplifted atmosphere, and building feelings of connectedness and a sense of community. A typical day also usually includes delicious food and tea at Keyvan’s house. Doing service has never felt like a chore or an obligation, it’s something I choose to do because it makes me happy.
What were your expectations when you started here? Were they met? How have they changed?
When I first started, I was not expecting to become so involved or to grow so much as a person from my involvement. I was merely looking to make a friend. My experience has far exceeded my expectations. CGIE has become an integral part of my life and I’ve noticed how the skills that I have gained through CGIE transfer into so many other aspects of my life including my career and education, relationships with friends, parents, strangers, and my significant other.
What do you consider this company’s (department’s) strengths and weaknesses?
One of the biggest strengths is that it is very collaborative and not hierarchical; everyone has an equal voice and is of equal value, regardless of level of experience, amount of time of involvement, age, or position. One weakness could be that due to our society’s understanding of “education” or “success”, someone might let the opportunity to be a part of CGIE pass by without even realizing how much there is to gain on every level by being an intern at CGIE.
What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
One of the most challenging parts is that as a community-based organization, we have to be very flexible and patient because our projects depend on many people. Because many people are involved in the decision-making process, a lot of the time the details of what we will be doing, where, and who will be involved are unknown and can change at any time. I have to make an effort to keep an attitude of curiosity when challenges arise, and not allow myself to become frustrated. I remind myself that it is all part of the learning process and that helps me to remain joyful.
What do find most enjoyable?
Are there any negatives to your job?
Which seasons of the year are toughest in your job?
How would you describe the culture?
What are the company’s short- and long-range objectives?
We operate on a very small-scale, focusing on one group of middle school students in one school in Pomona, but our vision is very big and we are part of a global network working in every corner of the world with this same vision of a better world filled with peace and collaboration and mutual support. Our short-range objectives include empowering the junior youth in the groups which we will be animating to build critical thinking skills and consultative skills, to see themselves as part of the solution in their communities, to understand and develop the power of expression, to identify and develop their talents and skills, build character, and begin to bring along their friends in this process. The long-range objectives include tremendous growth and sustainability; that the high school students begin to animate their own junior youth groups; that this begins to affect the teachers, the students who aren’t involved, their parents, and the entire community; that the community-building efforts become a magnetic positive force in the community, affecting and attracting all; that the global network becomes so great that there is a large, noticeable effect throughout the world.
What do you see as common denominators for success in this and other non-profits?
The common denominators for success are unity of vision, an atmosphere of friendship and mutual support, an ability to consult and communicate effectively, and a genuine desire to serve, not for yourself or for your paycheck, but because you genuinely believe that what you are doing can make a difference and because you care.
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