Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Headed to the Street

Two years ago my life was changed by Sesame Street. I saw the documentary: The World According to Sesame Street, and I made the decision that I had to be a part of Sesame Workshop (formerly the Children's Television Workshop).

I've told this story before, but in honor of Sesame Street's 40th Anniversary today, I want to tell it again.

Through out high school and most of my undergraduate degree, I knew I was going to work for Disney. It started in the 90s. Disney was extending benefits to same sex couples. Amid the controversy, there were rumors that Disney was releasing books that featured having same sex parents. Scandal aside, this is when I had my personal epiphany about Disney's ability to educate. From that point on, my biggest concern about my future was deciding if I wanted to live in Orlando or Burbank.

In college I went to work for Disney. It was a six month internship, and to date it is still one of the most valuable experiences of my life. I had an insider's view to changes being made. I saw programs get cut for lack of funding. I saw other initiatives start up. What I learned while I was there is that Disney has a lot of power to educate, but it is not their priority. Disney is a company, and are by default corporate. They have a lot of wonderful programs that do great work, but if things ever got tight, they would be quick to go. Disney is under new leadership now. They continue to make decisions that I do and don't agree with.

That experience changed everything for me. I was lost for a couple years because I thought that being in children's entertainment meant viewing kids as consumers. I knew I couldn't do that, so I was looking for another path. Fortunately, a nearby college was having a viewing of The World According to Sesame Street. I had no idea what it was about, but the Big Bird lover in me wanted to go. I learned that everything I was looking for was out there. I was just looking in the wrong place. I learned about how Sesame Street started with a vision to provide preschool education opportunities to inner-city kids that weren't getting a head start elsewhere. I learned about how Sesame expanded globally to empower children around the world no matter what their needs are. I learned that there are children's entertainers out there who are advocates for imagination and love.

After a couple weeks, I had studied up on Sesame Workshop and my heart was set. A few months later Hubby and I announced to our friends and family that we were moving to New York once we finished our Master's degrees so that I could eventually work for Sesame Workshop. I am not part of the Workshop yet, but we have made it to NYC, and we love it here. I am continually inspired by what the Workshop is doing, and I will continue to search for a place where I fit in there. Hopefully, I will be able to celebrate Sesame Street's 50th anniversary as a colleague and not just a fan.

If you'd like a bit of inspiration, I recommend taking a look at some of their Initiatives, and what they do Around the World. If you just want to be nostalgic, I recommend their video library or their YouTube channel for some more recent segments. And if you would like to support Sesame Street with a birthday gift, you can contribute here: Sesame Workshop Support Us.


Miss Audrey said...

Wow. That actually made me a bit teary. :) I loved the show growing up, of course, and I've always regarded Jim Henson as one of my personal heroes.

They'd have to be crazy not to hire you. Anyone who loves their work and their message that much should be a shoo-in.

Amanda D Allen said...

Thanks! I'm confident that someday they will hire me. A great organization like that doesn't have a very high turnover rate though, so, I'm practicing my patience.