Our first Spotlight on Scarleteen interview will be with Joey, whom you may also know as September from the message boards. Joey is an incredibly multi-faceted and multi-talented individual who has been active at Scarleteen since 2005.
You probably wouldn't notice it based on reading her flawless English, but multilingual Joey's mother tongue is German, although her educational background has been international and multi-faceted. She's not just knowledgeable about sex ed, but has many unique interests and experiences, from modeling to being a huge Buffy fan. At Scarleteen and in person, Joey is not one to shy aware from challenging issues that might intimidate less confident people; in fact, she candidly discusses these things warmly and with grace. I've had the great fortune of meeting her in person, and can say that Joey’s even more awesome in person.
Without further ado, the transcript to our recent interview follows. Please feel free to comment or ask Joey any questions directly by leaving a message on this page or in the Staff Stuff area of the message boards.
Hello and welcome to your Spotlight on Scarleteen interview, Joey. Let's get started with the questions! Could you please share some basic information about yourself?
Hi! My name is Joey, I am 24 years old and I divide my time between the quaint little town in south-east Germany where I attend University, northern Italy where my parents live, and the American Midwest, where my partner lives.
What do you do at Scarleteen?
Here at Scarleteen, I moderate the forums Gender Issues and Ethics & Politics and also pay special attention the posts in Support Groups and Abuse & Abusive Relationships. Additionally, I've authored an article (Going the Distance: A Few Thoughts on Long Distance Relationships) and co-authored the Mythbusters serieswith fellow Volunteer Stephanie_1. [More truths will be revealed in new Misconception Mayhem articles coming soon!] I am also the author of the In Your Own Words piece entitled From Victim to Survivor. [Joey also is the writer of the forthcoming German translation of the Scarleteen staple, the Sex Readiness Checklist by site founder Heather Corinna.]
How long have you been active at Scarleteen? When did you start volunteering?
I first started posting at Scarleteen in the spring of 2005 and became a Volunteer in February of 2007.
What initially brought you to Scarleteen, and what's kept you around?
I started posting on Scarleteen after another message board community I'd been a part of had started to disintegrate. I missed the sense of community and exchange of ideas, then remembered having heard about Scarleteen and decided to take a look around. I stuck with ST because I enjoyed (and still do!) the refreshingly open and uncomplicated views on sex and sexuality and the over-all positive and friendly vibe of the site.
Do you have a favorite ST article, thread or other site feature?
The article I find the best and most useful is the Sex Readiness Checklist. I really wish I'd had that around when I first became sexually active! :)
What's been the best part of volunteering? What have been some of your most memorable moments here?
I really enjoy being able to interact with all sorts of different people and getting an insight into all of the various viewpoints and opinions and cultures and experiences. It's incredibly enriching and eye-opening, and I've learned a lot from our users. And, of course, I'm always glad to see a user coming back to share how they've applied what they learned at ST to their life and relationship, and how their situation has improved thanks to that. Nothing like a “thank you” to brighten my day!
If you are willing to talk about it, could you please share the biggest challenge you'd faced while volunteering at Scarleteen?
As a survivor of abuse, I sometimes find certain topics difficult to deal with and have to take some time away or ask someone else to reply to them. Over my time here, I've learned to be more aware of my boundaries, so thankfully it's not a problem I have to deal with very often anymore.
Could you please tell us more about your life outside of Scarleteen. What do you do?
I'm a University student (I hold a BA in English and am working on my MA) and I am a research assistant to one of the professors in the English department. I also volunteer at a counseling center for rape and abuse victims and occasionally do prevention and awareness work at elementary schools. During semester breaks, I tend to make some extra money by working as a tutor. Aside from that, I'm a voracious reader, and when I'm not otherwise engaged, I like to curl up with a good book.
Where are you coming from? Could you please share some of your roots with us?
Though I live in the city now, I'm actually a country girl through and through. :) I grew up in a small village in Germany that, just the generation before mine, had still relied solely on farming. So until I was 13, I spent my time playing in the mud, climbing on haystacks, wading through rivers, and bringing all sorts of animals home to 'take care of them' (most memorably, a duck that we rescued from an frozen lake where it had gotten caught in fishing line). Then I moved to the US with my family and entered high school where my interests shifted to the drama club, my involvement in the school's GSA, and American literature (a love affair that lasts to this day – see my degree). After yet another move, I finished off my school years in Italy, where I started modeling and became interested in politics. After the daughter-parent wars that seem to be obligatory during the teenage years, I finally started to grow closer to my parents after my graduation and subsequent move to college, and we now have a very close relationship. Another important figure of my childhood was my paternal grandfather, who was a writer himself and encouraged my interest in reading and writing, and was often the first to read my stories.
What are some of your hobbies, interests, and passions?
I have a bit of a one-tracked mind when it comes to this: my biggest hobby, passion and interest is literature. I can read a book a day when I have the time, and I also write poetry and short stories of my own. Every November, I participate in National Novel Writing Month. I not only read fiction, but often go off on independent research kicks and just let my interests and references lead me from one topic and one author to another.
There used to be a popular bumper sticker that said, "I'd rather be dancing." What would you rather be doing?
Thanks to my heavy class load this semester, my answer to this would often be “I'd rather be sleeping”. I can't seem to get enough sleep lately. :P The more heartfelt answer is “I'd rather be with my partner”, as we unfortunately get to see very little of each other due to our long-distance relationship.
Would you mind sharing your plans for the future or long-term goals?
I feel quite at home in the academic world, and plan to get my PhD at some point and work as a professor of American Literature. I also plan to return to the US to finish my degree. Beyond that, I don't want to make too many plans, and just wait and see where life leads me instead. Most of my plans I've made since graduating high school have gone bust at one point or another, so I've decided to just take it one step at a time.
Now that we've heard about your involvement at Scarleteen as well as your personal life, could you please share how how your tenure at ST has affected your life offline and vice versa?
To be completely honest, Scarleteen has changed my life in a quite significant way. For one thing, it's given me a venue to explore my feminism after I first became acquainted with the concept through a class in my freshman year of college. I don't think I'd be the proud feminist I am today if it hadn't been for Scarleteen. For another, the counseling we often wind up doing for and with our users has shown me that I really enjoy working with people one-on-one and giving them advice and helping them make sense of their feelings and situations. I've considered doing my Master's in the general area of social work and actually make a career of it, but my love for literature won out in the end. For now, I do counseling on a volunteer basis at a center in town, and I plan to continue to pursue this type of work.
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