Paula Rabkin

Profile Updated: May 17, 2024
Residing In Warrenton, VA USA
Occupation Retired
Children Currently 2 rescue cats, ages approximately 14 and 15
Yes! Attending Reunion

I transferred to University of Pennsylvania for my junior and senior year to study social cultural anthropology of Native North America with John Witthoft. I turned a position volunteering at the Museum into an actual paying job. Living in a 14-story university apartment block with 3 nursing majors who didn't need to study was so different than Oberlin. Senior year I lived off campus with a friend of a friend in an old Victorian house that was divided into small apartments. My roommate's father worked in a Chinatown restaurant and she learned cooking techniques from him. I knew how to read a recipe so between the two of us we made some fine meals, beginning most evenings with a pot of rice, half for her beloved Boxer dog and the other half divided between us.
After graduation I went to Yale on an NSF graduate fellowship. Sometime during the Spring a friend saw a notice on the anthro. department bulletin board about a 1-year fellowship in Washington DC on the Handbook of North American Indians at.the Smithsonian. I learned how to edit and proofread articles by senior scholars from a fine editor and how to select and caption illustrations. I had a stack pass for the Library of Congress!

After graduation I went to Yale on a NSF graduate fellowship. Towards the end of my first year

School Story

Back at Yale I put together a thesis proposal to work with a group of people who were learning about their Native heritage through
participation in the powwow circuit. The group was fraught with internal political divisions. And in the year that i was away my senior advisor was replaced by a professor who didn't believe it was anthropology if the people only spoke English. In the meantime i was asked by the Schagticote tribe in nw Connecticut for help in researching and writing their ethnohistory. I got a 1 year Connecticut Humanities Council scholar in residence grant. This work, too, was riven with interior and exterior political divides. To make a long story shorter, I never finished that project nor did I get it approved as a thesis. However, after I moved to Virginia I was twice visited by representatives of the tribe and I shared my research results with them, giving them a foundation for their federal application for tribal recognition.
I was only able to get a part time adjunct teaching position in Sociology at the local community college and the semester that I was offered 2 classes to teach I couldn't accept because I was making more money at minimum wage-and-a-half at Crown Books during the holiday season. I went to a crash secretarial training course, worked for two temp agencies, got a secretarial job with a defense contractor and rewrote my job description as a technical writer and editor, was loaned to the Postal Service, and then was offered a job as a technical writer and editor in the Finance Department.....and thus began a 30 year career at USPS headquarters. I had a wide variety of jobs including a detail to speechwriting and 12 years in the Historian's office, researching, writing, editing, and caring for historical artifacts.
One of the funniest school memories was joining friends who had purloined some dining hall trays and sledding in the moonlit darkness down a hill they found somewhere near campus.

Likelihood of attending the 50th Reunion

Yes, for sure

What do you remember about your Winter Term projects?

I can't remember a thing about my sophomore year winter term. I know I wanted to teach a Navajo weaving class but it was shot down for "not being relevant." I do remember my delight in attending the gamelan performance that was the finale of some other students' project.
Freshman year I spent winter term with a family on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation, helping out in the
Freedom School developed by the tribe to preserve their language and culture. I learned how ash splint and sweet grass baskets were made. And I learned about true hospitality from the family of 13 who let me be the first to use the water in the bathtub that they had heated on the stove.

Paula's Latest Interactions

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Paula Rabkin posted a message.
May 22, 2024 at 1:42 PM

I look forward to possibly meet up with another quilter! I'm not a professional like you but i've had the quilting bug for about 30 years now.

Paula Rabkin updated her profile. View.
May 17, 2024 at 6:34 PM