“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”- John Steinbeck
A lot has changed for me since the blog post in August, and it has taken me some time to process it all. In September I received an email from USAID stating that, due to a change in staffing needs, the Foreign Service Officer position I had been selected (and waiting) for was officially cancelled. The original plan was to teach in Korea until the FSO job with USAID started. Now, there was no plan.
I had been teaching in South Korea long enough to know that I was not providing the impact I had hoped, and consequently not receiving adequate job satisfaction to justify staying. I knew I wanted to look for something else, but struggled with the decision for a few reasons. Though the teaching system wasn’t ideal for me, living in South Korea had been an exciting experience. I also loved the people I worked with, and had made friends that I would be sad to leave. But when considering the work I enjoy doing, and intend to be involved with, it was apparent to me I needed to figure something else out soon.
I began looking into other international work options, which led me to come to terms with the fact there is a lot more I don’t know about international relations than what I do. The truth is I could use more knowledge and experience to be effectively involved in the type of work and change I envision, and I needed a plan to achieve both. The knowledge part has led me to applying to International Affairs grad school programs. The experience part led me back to Peace Corps. The plan part led me back to Ecuador.
I try not to get too worked up over the dream job with USAID falling through. My Grandma used to tell me “when life gives you chicken shit, you better just go ahead and make chicken soup.” Also said as making lemonade out of lemons. My gracious parents, since the news from USAID, knew that I have been stressed on what to do next. They suggested I come back to Ecuador for the holidays and give myself some space to figure it out. Remembering the beach and tropical weather, it was an offer I was happy to take. As it happens, lemonade is easier to appreciate on the Ecuadorian coast.
I arrived in Ecuador a few days ago and will be studying for the GRE during December. I take the test the first week in January. With any luck I’ll have some direction by April on which Master’s program I can start next fall. In between now and then the plan is to do some more international development work through Peace Corps early next year. I use the word plan lightly, however, as recent events have shown it’s best not to rely too heavily on them.
The title of my blog is really hitting home these days. Finding long term work to match the life I envision may take more preparation and time than originally projected. As frustrating as life’s setbacks can be, we can’t stop moving; and I won’t stop aiming towards A Life Worth Chasing.