Thursday, October 1, 2009

How I Got Here

So, some have been asking, "How did you get to DC?" Well, my friends, let me take you on a little adventure.

The May flowers brought graduation. Four years gone in the flick of a tassel. Daunting and exhausted, my undergraduate left me worn and confused. I needed a break from Utah life, a journey away, far away from what I was used to, I felt bottled up in a place that wasn't meant for me. I wanted to fly. I wanted to soar. Do something extreme, different and challenging, perhaps even stupid. So I decided go far! How about Asia, I thought.

Deciding on programs dealing with International education, I applied for all programs Asia-specific and English-teaching, both of which I had little experience in (took one Japanese class and taught English in the Czech Republic for a month), so basically I was going at things pretty blindly. But I had confidence regardless and set my mind to it hoping that it was what I really wanted to do. I applied to three companies, The JET (Japanese Exchange Teaching) Program, Interac, and ILP (International Learning Program). I was convinced that I would get one of the programs, leaning towards Japan I was hoping for JET, the most prestigious out of the three. I got an interview from all three and was excited as can be.
My first interview was for the JET program. It was a wet day in Utah and I had dressed in a newly-purchased suit to the interview. It was being held at the Guest House on the University of Utah campus, just a few minutes from where I was living at the moment. I went in confident and collective and really nailed the interview, well, most of everything besides the Japanese speaking part. But I had confidence in my abilities regardless and went forward hoping for the best.

The second interview was for the Interac Program, another Japanese English-teaching program, this one located out of Provo, UT. It was a group interview and it was sort of odd being there because most everyone else had recently got back from a mission and were fluent in Japanese, which furthered my handicap in not speaking the language. Ultimately, my interview went well, but again, without speaking the language I was unsure if I was qualified for the position.

The third interview was with ILP. This seemed to be the most inexperienced of the English-teaching companies. This program specified that teachers work in Taiwan. The interview was held over the phone. Everything went well. They cared less about whether or not I knew the language of the land, which gave me more confidence that I could get the teaching position.
Well, things crumbled, sort of. I received an alternative position with the JET program and because of the rampant loss in Japanese jobs, the percentage of teachers staying in Japan because of American job shortage, and other reasons, I was told that it was very unlikely that I would receive a position with them at this time. Any other year may have been different, but this year was special and they didn't have as many positions open than they thought they would have. I was devastated, but understood that higher qualified applicants that knew the language were likely to get a position before I did. Bummer. So I awaited the two other positions hoping it would be different, but, it came to be that all companies shared a similar situation. Interac and ILP both said that they had reached capacity for hiring for the fall semester and I was out of luck.

So, my grand vision was lost. I lay still and confused for a few weeks not knowing really where to go from here. I felt like I needed that escapism in order to reach my true self. I needed time away so that I could look into life from a different lens, a different location, that would change my perspective, forcing me to grow and learn. I was set in making this a reality. In grasping this idea of going somewhere, anywhere but here, I received word of opportunity with a program existing in DC. It was called the Hinckley Internship Program through the University of Utah. It was an opportunity I had always wanted to take advantage of during college but hadn't found the time to do so. I decided, no time better than the present.

I applied for the program and got in. The next step was finding a job. I worked with Hinckley to send in applications to a dozen or so organizations in DC. My first three being Amideast (A middle-eastern relations firm), NPR and the Smithsonian Art Museum. All three very different. I wasn't especially qualified for any of these positions, well, maybe I could have been if competition in the area wasn't so fierce because of the recent economic situation (everyone just trying to get a foot in the door), so I ended up with another organization on my list, that of the non-profit, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU.

It wasn't a top-selection on the list, but hey, I made my goal: To be somewhere else, discovering new things. And I am doing just that. My days consist of constant concentration and thought. I'm filled with scenes I haven't experienced before, I take deep glances at the world around me with more detail, examing the way people here move and talk differently than I'm used to. I examine my own psychology and have been able to write more frequently about my thoughts. It's just what I had in mind and it's something I need. More than anything, I appreciate the way different scenery challenges me. I am faced with meeting new people, making new friends, and discovering new things. It's cool to think, now that I've been in it a month, that I can do these things. I've already made a great group of friends. I've found spots that I can call my own. And my experiences have been plentiful.

So here I am. In Washington, DC. Trying to take it all in.

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