I woke with a start…again…..
I have been in an intensive program that has pushed not only me but just about everyone else to our limits. I have been reduced to tears more than once. Better people then I think of myself as being have been close to quitting….
But what good stuff I am learning!! I am learning how to actually do Development work abroad within the confines of the big agencies and the little NGOs….and this was my first and greatest reason for going back to school in the first place…and why I chose this particular coastal town to study…it has a strong emphasis on having an international focus…..and a keen awareness of the importance of working with languages and cultures and thinking big and small…with a large percentage of international students…we really are a touch of world travel all within a campus zone.
I love the fact I can hear any language I can imagine within a 15 minute stretch of walking around in this environment. I have always had a great love of accents, alphabets and languages….but here I have been developing my ear at an amazing pace….I guess more importantly though I have been learning a lot about people and myself….
It is a strange thing to year to travel to foreign lands now to see the families and homelands of my friends.
Two nights ago, I was enjoying a Happy Hour college experience…and marveling with my professor of the week over a fellow students satellite vision of the roof of her home in Asia. The little red roof actually took up a big chunk of the block…I suspected this sweet, calm friend who speaks several languages might be rather well to do….I wondered if she would be uncomfortable in my cute little beach bungalow.
During this intensive I am gathering tools in a manner that is somewhat intimidating. It isn’t easy to already be studying with the best and the brightest that one can imagine inhabits life in grad school….but couple it into a program where the pace is accelerated enough to knock out the far stronger hearted people around me and you see why I feel like I am constantly treading water….this is not a simple position in life. I was equally surprised and amazed to find that all those students around me that I viewed as superior in so many ways….well, they also felt like they were struggling…which actually amounted to quite a nice gift to my ego and student heart and mind.
One of my class members, is a brilliant young man who always is calm and collected. His ease of expression and his demeanor of power allowed me to feel a sense of trust when I worked on a project with him….I mean it felt good to defer to him since he seemed to have a clue….later on, after our class ended but when we were all in social mode…I learned that he was not some spoiled little rich kid raised in the lap of luxury as I had imagined would help him foster such a confidence level….it turned out that his struggles in getting here included much more then getting English under his belt…he had serious obstacles in his way to make it here from his home continent…and I felt his story gave me a large amount of confidence to build on…as if he somehow transferred some of his confidence and inner strength….it all made me feel even better as I stretched myself to higher heights.
Somehow I am nearing my one year mark of entering grad school and leaving my home behind. I always feel like I am hanging by a skinny tether…yet somehow I made it here….I am poised for another week of this intensive…and waiting on my roommate who will add a whole new layer and flavor to life this next round…and I have to say I find it amazingly exhilarating….people are fun…dealing with people is even more fun….but tossing in language and culture that I did not usually get to cavort with and I find myself in a dynamic, flexible classroom at this school…breathing in different jobs and talents as if I am trying out new recipes and foods.
One thing I have been figuring out: I love everyone. Even when I get mad or frustrated…I can also feel the love later…when my head clears…I feel so much appreciation for every single interaction….I have been criticized in a manner much harsher then my teammates….I was the only one I knew of who had her speaking voice, (which is calmer and metered)…labeled as condescending before others jumped in a pointed out that they had not viewed it as such….and I have somehow survived….I expressed myself in a group presentation without speaking a word when my voice went after my cold settled in my throat….and I have to say that I actually enjoyed it in the end….
Both weeks of this intensive daily work have been over the top….and I do not think they have brought out my best work in any way, shape or form….but I do not think I have to be perfect to have learned a lot…and I do not think that I have to be the best when working with a team…I think that this year at my grad school has taught me to roll with the punches and accept the idea that doing work means doing the best I can while working with others in any way I can.
Oddly, I think I have been leaning a lot about myself too….what I like and what I do not like…what I am great at and what to relax about and what to get keyed up about as well.
I have earned so much as far as technique and how to complete big group projects….this has made me so much more ready to work for the UN or the State Department. This has been extremely productive study time…this whole year actually qualifies as true learning in that department. I cant wait to see what I wind up doing with all these new abilities…and I really want to see what opportunities this will all lead me to in the future….it should be fun!