Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Barb the Builder

I graduated from NEW! Here's me getting my pre-apprenticeship diploma.

Sadly, the hard hats were only for the girls with no tardies. It would have mostly sat in my closet, anyway. I did get an awesome 20 foot tape measure that weighs at least a pound. My tool collection begins!

I wish I had been able to blog about the program more as it was happening, but there were a couple factors inhibiting that.

1) Having a camera was awkward and the teachers didn't seem very excited about me taking pictures when I was supposed to be working.

2) I didn't want to go through the rigmarole of asking permission for classmates to be in the blog.
3) I was too tired. This is actually the real reason and the first two are just excuses.

Between carpentry math, blueprint making, financial workshops, self-defense, occupational safety, painting, electrical work, and shop class, each day was a little different.
Here are some pictures of me in shop.

Here we are beginning to build our very own miter box for cutting 90 and 45 degree angles (for picture frames, for example). This was a proud day for me; I went into the class with the least practical experience as the rest of the girls and I got one of the highest grades. And that was after a gal heckled me for having high math scores, but working at a snail's pace with no hammer skills.
I didn't make it past the first round in the hammer contest, but if I can take my time, I have confidence in my craftsmanship. It shows that I would best be suited for finishing work. It also shows that I'm my father's daughter.
You can see the woman in the corner using a combination square, one of the next tools on my list. I'm getting out some aggression using a crosscut saw.

I wasn't sure if I was going to leave the program with the same feelings as I had going in. Surprisingly, I have them and more. I entered Nontraditional Employment for Women because I wanted to take advantage of the incredible learning opportunity, and all offered for free. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with every minute of it (except for maybe the 5:30 am wake-ups on Saturdays).
This program is really giving women in New York City the ticket to change their lives. I am so proud of the ladies with children who commuted on top of rearranging their work schedules, just so at the end of this, they could get out of a dead-end job or financial dependence.
I went in with an interest in plumbing, and left with an interest in everything. I doubt I will stick around New York for the 5-year apprenticeship on top of a very long wait list, but I do know I'm going to apply the skills down the road. I am grateful for the confidence NEW instilled in all of us, for all the strong women it churns out into a dusty, dirty world.
There is an old house out there, falling apart from neglect and waiting for someone to rescue it, like an old dog at the pound. Somewhere on the horizon, you will see me bent over a work bench, taking a chance on trying to put it all back together again.

1 comment:

  1. Your Dad made a "proud point" of sharing your blog with me. As was your Southeast Asia blog, this blog is most enjoyable. Please keep this up.
    We are renovating a mission style hacienda here in Arizona and I have been writing a blog about our experience. You may find my last blog about your dad's visit and his help interesting. Check it out @