Friday, January 7, 2011

Going Back to School Tomorrow...

Tomorrow, I return to the District for the first time in about five months. Having been out of the country, I naturally feel a bit of disconnect. I am nervous about seeing people I haven't really talked to for awhile, especially because I know I've changed. I am also nervous for a different reason. This is my last semester of college. Afterward, I actually need to do something with my life. Hopefully, that something does not involve waiting tables, at least not for too long. What to do, what to do?

I am considering a year with Americorps to work with children and youth. My goal is to finish my application by next weekend. This program would allow me to tutor children and young people, serve as a mentor, work with after school programs, and plan community projects in a U.S. city. Of course, competition is stiff and there are no guarantees for getting in. I also have started a Peace Corps application, knowing it takes at least a year. Work with Americorps would qualify me for Peace Corps but, if Americorps does not work out, I can at least talk to a recruiter about how to make my application stronger.

In addition, I am looking at programs with Tostan, a wonderful development organization (Peace Corps would be valuable but it's not development in the way I see it). The only catch to that is I need to save money and learn French (most programs are in West Africa, particularly Francophone Africa and yes, there is a French requirement). Professors think I should do research but, again, that takes a year to apply and write a proposal.

I would love to come back to Kenya. My colleagues have told me they're praying I come back by 2012. In addition, one of my Kenya mates said to me before I left, "Kenya in 2012?" I want to, but I want to do something constructive. Peace Corps will not send me back to Kenya and Tostan does work in West Africa. I would like to take the opportunity to do something else, but I do feel I left some unfinished business in Kenya. I am still in the "I just got back from Kenya, it was freakin' amazing and now I miss it like hell," stage (yes, there is one, just talk to two of my dear friends). So, I don't know.

Grad school is out of the question for now. The programs I am interested in require field experience first, which is understandable. I also would like to pay off one set of debts before I assume another. I am taking peaks at my friends' GRE books and keeping my eye out for programs but I do want some "real world" experience first. Plus, I can use a break from studying. It's out there but I'm waiting awhile.

So, to anyone who asks me, "What do you want to do after graduation?" the answer is, "I don't know, I'm still figuring it out." Of course, don't expect a five-year-plan and don't expect a run down of what I can possibly expect to do with a major in International Studies and a minor in Economics ("I'm going to make decisions that affect YOUR life!" is my response to that one). I haven't decided if I'm going with God*, the government, or an independent organization, or if I just want a regular job. Hell, I haven't even bought my schoolbooks yet! I can assure people that I will do something I love, I will do something constructive, and I will work my ass off, giving everything I've got. This, I can promise you.

*For those who may be offended about my "going with God" comment, I was going for a bit of snark here. I always go with God, I was simply referencing Catholic orgs (NOT proselytizers) and trying to be just a little cheeky. I do not mean to offend, nor do I mean to jeopardize my immortal soul. Thank you.

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