Agent Name: Gold Fox
Real Name: Ola Faleti
Congratulations, Spy! How does it feel?
It feels pretty good! An unexpected and flattering surprise.
How did you get started at 826CHI?
I started volunteering at 826CHI a little over a year ago. I would always pass the old location (The Boring Store) with mild interest but I never went in. I later had a college housemate who interned at the Seattle location (now the Bureau of Fearless Ideas), and that was how I learned more about 826. There aren't too many nonprofits with a creative writing focus, so I had to sign up!
What is your favorite 826 experience so far?
I started leading workshops for the first time this fall, I've been enjoying it a lot! My students are so smart and have an awareness that I don't think I had at 13. We talk a lot about social inequalities and good books, what more can you ask for on a Saturday morning? I definitely want to lead other workshops in the future.
What do you do when you aren't working undercover?
When I'm not doing spy activities (defusing bombs, decoding Morse Code, negotiating ransoms) I write. Like, a lot. For a living I write instructional training materials for Fortune 500 companies. I also write on my own outside of that. I eat a lot of candy. I make lists. I read. I walk everywhere imaginable while the weather allows it. Oh, and when I'm not spying I still wear black and move stealthily, for the most part.
What is your favorite instruction to give others?
For work it's usually stuff like "let's take a closer look at..." or "pay attention to..." Outside of work I find myself saying "stop!" when people tell me things that I can't believe. It's more an expression of incredulity than a demand.
What's the largest ransom you've ever negotiated?
The largest ransom I ever negotiated had $100,000 and a lifetime supply of black licorice at stake! Very very proud of finagling that one.
The top spies always have the best code names— what's yours?
Mine is Gold Fox but I've been feeling very meh about it. New suggestions are welcome. I'll only consider good ones.
Tell us about the last book you read and loved.
The last book I read and loved was The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. So heartbreaking and beautiful, I honestly don't understand how anyone can write like that.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other aspiring spies of the month?
Show up to things, and respect/appreciate the diversity of your students' experiences!