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The eight weeks in Miami have blown by, and as we prepare to leave, questions have arisen about the legacy that I am leaving behind here. On a professional level, my initial instinct is to say that I left no lasting impact. Catholic Charities Legal Services existed before I arrived, and it will continue to serve the community long after I leave. None of my work was revolutionary, granted I never expected it to be. Of course, I helped out in the office and alleviated some of the burden on the attorneys while I was there, but none of the work I did during my time here will be of any use after I leave, except for the desk that we built.
My perspective changed one day this week when our boss, Cassandra, kindly got us Haitian food for lunch and spoke about each of our individual impacts at CCLS. It was rewarding to hear her verbalize her appreciation for the work I did that I perceived to be menial, like translating birth certificates. Yet, I still couldn’t help but feel that my impact did not extend beyond the time I spent in Miami.
It was only when another attorney, Vanessa, and the CEO, Randy, preached the importance of the tiny work that I began to develop an appreciation for my mundane work. When you only work with paper, it’s easy for the work to become detached from the humanity and from the reality. It’s easy for the work to become detached from the ultimate goal of guiding the client through the immigration system so that they can gain legal residence and eventually citizenship. Translating a birth certificate is the first step in helping them navigate that labyrinth, and while it is only the beginning of an arduous journey, part of my legacy is that I was able to help the clients start that journey. I won’t be here long enough to see the end of their journeys, and I have to make peace with that, but I can hope that the menial work I did will one day in the distant future give rise to jubilation when some of our clients get their green cards.