Former DOD Employee, Current Shaper of Young Minds and Constant Crocheter
We continue our profiles of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members this week talking to Krisan Evenson, of Chapter 30, the PSU Teaching Lecturers. Krisan is active in her chapter, serving as vice president, and is part of several committees. Here’s what she had to say:
How long have you worked for the college?
I joined the PSU community in January 2006, after a stint with the U.S. Defense Department. It has been a pleasure to return to my home state (I’d lived elsewhere for the previous 20 years), and I’m having trouble believing I’ve been back for a decade!
What do you do for work?
At PSU, I teach a range of courses in international relations and the analysis of global problems. Sometimes this means I introduce students to ideas about how the world’s distribution of power affects how they see the world. Other courses focus on analysis techniques with data, or particular areas of the world (my students know I’m obsessed with Canada), or enduring issues like child soldiers or humanitarian emergencies. In all cases, students create and then carry out a project that contributes to solving a problem or changing the world.
What’s the most meaningful part of your job?
To me, it’s showing students — not just telling them, but illustrating, demonstrating, participating and celebrating — that they are more powerful than they believe. Who could blame an 18-year-old for believing that politics is a problem, when all they have seen are constant negative media messages? An empty Congressional debate chamber is not inspiring, but changemakers (likely with less media coverage) are. Students find meaning when they realize there are problems within their power to solve, and they deepen their interest in the world when they go out, connect and contribute to the resolution of a problem. They’re galvanized to get to the next problem on their interest list, and make the next change. And every time they do that, they become more powerful as individuals, and we all win as a community.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Usually, it’s something creative. I’ve been crocheting since I was little, and I often have 4-5 projects going. Some may remember me making a sweater at the SEA Convention last year during the meeting downtimes. When I’m not crocheting, I consume international intrigue novels like candy. I’m a sponsor with Save the Children, and occasionally do English-French translation for smaller projects.
How did you get involved in the SEA?
My involvement in the SEA began when the PSU teaching lecturer community decided to work toward bringing our personal and professional relationships in our workplace into alignment. The SEA was instrumental in showing us that we could do this without enmity, and we were able to demonstrate to the PSU administration (the “other side” of the table, if you will) that conflict is an occasion for building a better campus. We had pretty good results and kept our collegial relationships intact, too.
Why is it important to you to be a union member?
It’s important not to remain in a silo. Every time I get to a meeting on our campus or in Concord, I get to connect to similar others all across our great state. This connection demonstrates that we really do have shared interests, and sharing our ideas about how to build our strengths and solve problems is crucial in our economy and political climate. And like my students, every time we do that, we become more powerful as individuals, and we all win as a community.
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