Feb 7, 2009

The Next Part

All week, I've been telling my students that I'm leaving, and I've also been telling them why. I've told them that I am indeed going back to the U.S., and hope to get a job with the Foreign Service. I've told them that I'm taking the test tomorrow, have been studying for it for months, and that I find this path a fitting one for me. I majored in political science and have always been consistently interested in politics, international relations, and world affairs.

It's been a mixed process. My students are not happy to see me go, which is a nice ego boost. After I explained that a new teacher would be coming, one of my kids wrapped herself around my torso and said "You're teacher. I hate new teacher." I've also started getting plenty of presents and knick-knacks, which is sweet, but right now I'm trying to get rid of stuff. Best, though, was what one of my older students said to me:

"I studied engineering at university," he said, "and now I'm an engineer. Every day, I make machines, I do what I love, and I'm happy. I understand why you're leaving." He smiled at me, said "see you next week!" and left.

I found this very encouraging, and as I've been articulating my reasons for leaving to my students, it's put into perspective what I want to do as a more long-term career. Even if I don't get into the Foreign Service, I'm going to pursue work with other government entities or with NGOs. I am determined to become a part of that which interests me the most.

To be sure, I can be interested in just about anything. There are few things out there that, when you really stop to appreciate them, are inherently boring. But, it is the system of human societies which I have found regularly fascinating. Since I was a kid, in fact. When I think of childhood reading material, I think of Encyclopedia Brown and Newsweek.

All of this, really, is a relief. A relief of a jarring sort, really. When I first decided to do this, months ago, I spent a couple of hours walking around by myself in the Meiji Jingu with an "oh shit..." sort of feeling. I had decided to act in accordance with what I wanted, and found it wonderful yet disorienting. Now it's mostly settled in, and I've become much, much more calm about things in general. I'm even managing to control my stress about the upcoming exam fairly well. In fact, I'm surprised at how unpanicked I am. I think this is a good thing.

To see one's area of passion and interest as something of value is a wonderful feeling. In 24 hours I'll be at the U.S. embassy, trying to get my foot in the door with a politically-oriented career. I've done quite well on the practice tests, and hope that my performance is competitive enough to be selected for an oral assessment. Even if it's not, though, I know what I want and where I'm going.


Kristin said...

Good luck on your test, Joe! See you soon!

Tara said...

I appreciate your feeling of "jarring relief." Thank you for putting so succinctly what I have been feeling since the moment I got into NYU. Everything was changing, and I am still terrified from time to time that I've made a poor decision. But there is relief to be found in knowing that you are doing what you love. Congrats on being one brave individual.

You'll rock that test, I have no doubt. Still, I'm sending good vibes your way.