If, then when you decide to join Peace Corps

If you do this, then this. When you do that, then that. I don’t have to join the Peace Corps for my life to be meaningful (My grandma would sure be happier if I didn’t… I mean, there are wars “over there”. I’m not sure where she thinks I’m going. I’m not sure she’s sure. But I’m sure she loves me, and that’s enough… I know all of these people who don’t understand my hippy crap love me, but… it would be cool of they got it). What I am sure of is that Korbel was never an ‘if’, it was a ‘when’. Peace Corps was an ‘if’ once for me, and deciding against it was a solid move at the time. That time is passed, and I feel like I have to go. I want to be a part of the club. The people who go in their dirty clothes to UN seminars, and inappropriately guzzle the champagne and hog the food, because we’ve been experiencing how a majority of the world live- a life so different from our own. Our bodies are tired, our hearts are tired. It’s the good tired, though-like tired from staying up all night to wrap Christmas presents, or having been to the park all day with your best friends on the first sweltering day of summer. But this tired stays with you, as a reminder that peace comes from within. If you let externalities (not the financial kind) determine your fate, you’re done.       

Being at Korbel with the Peace Corps Community has been a powerful and unexpected boost of energy to my life source. All of the sudden, I’m understood. My goals don’t seem lofty, just standard. I know there’s only 400 of us (about 200 in each incoming class), but we are the largest Returned Peace Corps Volunteer group in the world, at any institution. My best friends here all come from different PC locations, wiser and more ready to take on the problems of the world. MalawiEcuador, Lesotho, ThailandPanama, just to name a very few.   

The Josef Korbel School is special in that it brings diplomats, ambassadors, authors, professionals, and recruiters to our humble building to eat a sandwich and discuss embassy life during a colloquium that always feels like a much smaller deal than it is. My hope is that I’m not the only person at these tables, or the Peace Corps happy hour (when it happens) basking in the value of the scenarios playing out before my very eyes. I felt as if I knew more than the recruit about Peace Corps, and still, these RPCV’s have something I don’t. They share it with the countless Diplomats in Residence, Congressmen and Women, FSO’s, and our very own Dean Hill… they have lived the Peace Corps life, worked hard to integrate into another community in an effort to understand that we don’t have all the answers. We probably have about the same amount of “answers”, in fact, as the average Basotho, or Isan. Definitely less than the average Nepali, in my opinion.

Peace Corps has plenty of glory to tout-a dark side, too. I won’t get into that, but I will say that for all of the war mongering of the corporatocracy, the USA has established a miraculous and consistent organization, with a mission and vision beyond its time; the chance to send US citizens into an experience for 27 months (a drop in the bucket of the avg joe’s 75 years) that will forever mark their character and worldview, and the worldview of those regions who get a Peace Corps volunteer.

Maybe I’ll change my mind after watching my first goat hang from a tree and be hacked by a machete for the celebration of my arrival, or having my first pet die, or the standing by helplessly while situations out of my control push me to the edge of sanity. Or when I experience the gradual change in the way I think about my family, friends, problems,dietgpajobsearchfutureLIFE.  Maybe. But the reality that I will be immersed in for a mere 27 months is the reality of an entire people group for the duration of their lives. It may not be as negative as I think, and I may not be as rich (or poor) as I think either. When I join the Peace Corps, I will be a part of a new family. Whoever they are, I can’t wait to meet them. I hope I teach them even a fraction of what I know they’ll teach me.  

Grad Student Brain

In the midst of articles too theoretical to understand by skimming and more late nights at the library than you knew you were capable of, there washes over you a quiet realization that you are almost through your first year in graduate school. For me, this meant giving up my obsession with dishes that took 2 hours to prepare, sacrificing my protest against fast food (hey, I gave it up for lent), and learning how to be a more whole version of myself.

Apart from introspection, in the last year, the world has truly become our oyster. Spring at Korbel comes with news of internships with the State Department and FBI, jobs with international big 5 NGO’s like Care, BRAC, and Partners in Health, fellowships with Presidential Management Fellows and Boren. Alongside these exciting professional accomplishments is the buzz of underground ventures- mobile tech stuff like students purchasing bandwidth to be used for beepers in the developing world, or apps that will hold people accountable for taking medication  as well as serve to inform epidemiologists about local statistics or let IDU’s find out where the nearest needle exchange is in Vietnam. The outcome of events like CENEX are fresh on everyone’s mind- the victors stand as an example of fun-loving, ambitious, aspiring diplomats-in-training out to use their new found acumen to make the world a better place. In other words, typical Korbel students.

As graduation nears, I can’t imagine how different campus is going to be when I return in the winter of next year, after State Department, before Peace Corps, to be greeted by a gaggle of fresh graduate geese. I can’t even imagine how different life will be after saying goodbye to the friends that are graduating in a mere 5 weeks. I guess the same way those of us who fancy ourselves world travelers say goodbye. Jean Dubuffet said it well, characteristic of his humanity,  “Unless one says goodbye to what one loves, and unless one travels to completely new territories, one can expect merely a long wearing away of oneself and an eventual extinction”. And this brain sketch said it well, characteristic of the cheap internet search that found it:

grad-student-brain

I’m not really down with extinction. And that brain doesn’t have room for missing people.  I am, however, down with the Pygmalionesque transformation I’ve watched myself and those who have come to mean so much to me go through. Steinbeck (ironically the book is titled In Search of America… acknowledging that we’re an international school, we move on) said, “There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colors and its fire to match the nature of a day, so do I.” So heres to our opals changing. (?… in all of my egotistical rants, I forgot to mention my brain is too full of anti-neoliberal opinions currently to write a funny and poignant blog). A final quote for the road…”Good enough is good enough.” from yours truly, dear reader. Over and Out.

 

Omne Trium Perfectum or Hendriatus

3:

The number of quarters I had to get through to realize my time-management potential

The number of nuclear arsenal components that DPRK wishes it had

The (tri)colon I will use to describe my grad school experience- Veni, Vidi, Vici

The number of times a week I wake up to go row a boat while my ears and nose freeze and break off

Binary opposition used by Martin Luther used in his speeches: insult, injustice and exploitation

number of $’s in my bank account

Turn yourself not away from this number of best things: Good Thought, Good Word, and Good Deed

How many internships I applied to before I got one with the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (ironically, I’m pretty sure I was their 3rd choice)

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Number of universities I’ve attended before settling into an actual career trajectory

One more than the years I will be in Denver to complete my GFTEI degree

Inches on Amanda’s (Megan’s?) heels at Korbel Promenade, also the number of people I danced with at Korbel Promenade with whom I am now friends

Number of best friends a girl needs

Number of Barry Eichengreen books I’ve been assigned (consequently two more than amount of Barry Eichengreen books I’ve actually read)

Two more people than I ever want to live with (again)

Average number of panelists at LASA, SIDI, FIAP and other student group events

Ladies it takes to successfully run CIFTE (GFTEI student group)

Number of Masters Degrees of the average panelist at said events

Ordinal number of the ghost to which Scrooge said, “Spirit, I fear you most of all.”

What my theologian father would argue is not the holy number of the godhead

The number of words used to capture the hedonistic lifestyle, “Wine, Women, and Song” (consequently three of my favorite things)

Triadization- the proposed alternative to the theory of globalization which states that political, economic and socio-cultural integration have been limited to three regions of the world: Japan and the newly industrialized countries of Southeast Asia, Western Europe and North America.

The number of ingredients in a good life: learning, earning, and yearning

The tripartite motto can be used to explain phenomena all over the place. I have no extant data to back up my belief in the ‘third times a charm’ colloquialism, but it is certainly true of the quarter system at the Korbel School (and in marriage, of course). So, in an effort to continue my blogging calls to action, here are some ‘power of three’ words to live by in true Moriah-tell-me-how-to-live-my-life fashion (thank-you, Mr. Bismarck, right as usual): “The three signs of great men are — generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success.” I think this sums up what Korbelites are all about. Are you with us?

 

 

Peace Corps & State Department Critical Languages

This is a public service announcement.

I have aligned the Department of State Critical Languages with Peace Corps currently open (as of April 2013) countries of service. This is for those of you who are going into Peace Corps and want your language to benefit your future would-be career with DOS.

Here is the list of Critical Languages, with places those languages are spoken. If the locale has a bold PC beside it, you guessed it- Peace Corps currently serves there:

Arabic- Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco PC, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Palestine (Gaza Strip and West Bank), Syria, Lebanon, Jordan PC, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Arabic Emirates (ancient Trucial Oman), Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait.

Azeri- Azerbaijan PC

Bengali- Bangladesh

Chinese (Mandarin)

Hindi- India

Indonesian- Indoniesia PC

Japanese

Korean

Persian/Farsi- Iran (formerly Persia) and is also widely spoken in Afghanistan and, in an archaic form, in Tajikistan and the Pamir Mountain region, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates

Punjabi-Punjabi is natively spoken by the majority of the population of Pakistan, and it is the primary language of the Sikhs in India and the third-most natively spoken language in South Asia, after Hindustani and Bengali. Punjabi is also currently the second-most spoken language in the United Kingdom.

Russian

Turkish

Urdu-Pakistan, a status which it shares with English. It is also spoken and understood in parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal PC, the Middle East.

State Department is calling…What language will YOU speak?

Dr. Shraudenfreud

When I was an undergrad, I drew a comic strip for our daily news. When life is HILARIOUS, this is easy. My character would pose questions like, “Were you abused as a child?” to those awkward kids who asked a question that had just been answered. And, “Ah, the tangled web we weave when at first we don’t follow directions…”, or my personal favorite, “If I’ve said anything to offend you, I meant it.” And he did.

Luckily, he was just a cartoon. Poorly drawn, if I do say so myself. In grad school, even if your profs are nothing like the dubious doc, there are days when you feel like your prefrontal cortex cannot take in one single syllable more of information without your stress signaling pathways abruptly erupting. And you can’t eat enough cybercafe chocolate muffins or caffeine to sustain the energy it takes to walk up the stairs, and don’t care who judges you for taking the elevator a humiliatingly short 2 floors up. If this sounds dramatic, it is. It’s dramatic, and demanding. But, if waking up at 5:30 to ask SIRI what you have to do today and hearing, “_____ ______, I have 13 events on your calendar today.” excites you, this is probably the place for you. Ok, ok, three of those things tomorrow are free ethiopian food at the Maternal Health lunch, rowing crew, and ‘find free chicken wire for garden’ (If you don’t like vermin gettin’ in your greens, this may not be the place for you). But the other 10 are legit, school-related responsibilities, like meet with my Project Evaluation group to pick a region, and intervention to formulate questions for our evaluation/SOW. Or to read about the spread of nationalism as it relates to global health in a book written by my professor (Sandy Johnson, you know no ills), so I can meet with a RPCV (who I am lucky to call mon ami) at McDonald’s for our once a week Fat-Jeans-supersize-fries-Study-Session (I know we’re sworn to secrecy, but dude, my followers are blinded by love). Or start my Security Clearance paperwork for State Department (I got an alternate offer- this means, if anyone else fails thais security clearance/falls in love and moves to Tahiti, I’ll be in DC for the fall! Hopefully it’s the latter, but I’ll take what I can get).

If you haven’t figured it out yet, you are insanely busy in grad school. My first quarter, my Chakras were so mixed up that I literally forgot my name at one point (that’s an extreme anecdotal, but it happens). Busy=Stimulated! By my third quarter, I can finally say I am actually doing all of my readings (mostly), and managing my time (see me about summer squash harvest in the early fall), and treating others like I want to be treated (ok, I should’ve picked up this gold {see what I did there–>GOLDEN RULE! HA!} nugget in kindergarten, but it takes all kinds. But, I’ll have to speak to the eclectic nature of our motley medley after I get a couple of waivers signed… can’t have legal trouble during security clearance season.

Off to Girl Scouts. What, you don’t have time to volunteer?

Bliss

Hi again! I blocked my blogging responsibilities as a coping mechanism during the first quarter, but for the last, I have little excuse for the exiguous number of posts. I’d like to congratulate the class of 2014 for completion of their second quarter. What I will not congratulate them on (at least those kind enough to call themselves my friends) is their poor diet of take-out and finger foods (you know who you are, fried pickles and/or wings). But, as with all things in life, the unhealthy influence led me to a cup of tea at one of said dear friends houses tonight, Detox, which led me to this quote… “Bliss is a constant state of mind, undisturbed by gain or loss.”

Easy for us to say. If you’re thinking of applying to the Korbel School, you probably have some grand scheme in mind to save the world (don’t you peace corps people love it when a rando who finds out you were/are PC ‘thanks you for your service’? You’re welcome, sir. You’re welcome). You also hopefully are the kind of person who likes to read and write… a lot. A cumbersome amount. Stuff that probably will fade into obscurity almost synchronously as your grade posts. Ironic that to finish a degree which may lead you to a place where you are able to accomplish said world-saving requires that you participate in so. much. ambiguity. How do graduate students at a professional school deal with the impracticality of a majority of the workload? First of all, you stop thinking about it like that. You’re proving your ability to weave through a weighty and monotonous maze of information to glean the necessary cream from the crop. You cope with the reality that is every professor having a different teaching and grading style, and finally, you love it. You love class, you love your peers, you love the two feet of snow after returning sunburned from the Grand Canyon for spring break. You love it because you are supposed to be here, and when you’re on your path, nothing (not the overwhelming exhaustion from stories of government waste, not the scary prospect of joblessness, not the fact that all your friends are getting married, not March Madness upsets, not academic probation… nothing) can stop you.

So, here’s to being on our paths, gang. And if we’re not sure we are, here’s to being blissful while we figure it out.

A Few of My Favorite Things

 

Frozen hard snow-ice on terra firma,

Bright career possibilities in Thailand and Burma,

Brown paper packages shipped from Beijing,

These are a few of my favorite things…

 

When my grades bite,

When a meme stings

When it’s hard being a graaaad,

I just think of my job in the admissions office, and am thankful I work for Brad.

 

Study sleepovers and real maple syrup

Hope against hope for an internship in Europe,

Geneva and Peace Corps sweetly beckoning.

These are a few of my favorite things!

 

When nuclear proliferation bites,

And my professor’s lectures stings,

And I’m feeling pooooor,

I just think of refugees andcleanwaterandhealth, and I’m not impoverished anymore.

 

Intramural and Club teams and early gym workouts,

Knowing because of instagram your friends where-a-bouts,

Professional dress and late library dates,

The inevitability of feeling like a neonaaaate…

 

When your grades bite,

And a tweet stings,

When it’s hard being a graaaad,

Remember you go to the Korbel School and your future is iroooonclaaaad.

 

 

Professors and Pacifism

As we settle into week 3 of our new quarter, I encourage those of you applying to the Josef Korbel school to make as many inquiries as possible about the receipt of your transcripts, SOP, and sundry other application materials. You got me; that was of course, a lie. One of the many lessons that I understand but haven’t learned per se, if that if it’s meant to happen it will (or won’t, as the case may be). Followers, show of hands if you’re tired of my Buddhist rants? GET OVER IT. ‘Scuse me for openly admitting that I am pacifist. OUT AND PROUD. BTdub, pacifism is awesome, and rather than blab about how you shouldn’t be nervous about your future (maybe its your nervousness that’s driving you to greatness, embrace it), lets take a moment to explore why professors at the Korbel school are my favorite obscure underground minority.

Reason 1) During politie conversation, the marital status of one’s Monetary relations professor isn’t allowed. But we at the Josef Korbel practice subversion at least at a minimalist, diplomatic level. In that spirit, there a number of Bogart/Bacall’s among our faculty. The wives of the pairs are trending towards garnering their surnames (on accounta their PhDs), so be careful about assumptions. You know what those do.

Reason 2) With small exception, I’ve been able clearly identify each of my professors as affiliated with primarily three of the following schools of thought, as defined by the Dungeons and Dragons Alignment (see key):

Lawful Good- the majority of professors, everywhere (or at least how they portray themselves).

True Neutral- Ilene Grabel (we think).

Chaotic Good- Art Gilbert (we’re sure).

Key:

Image

I have to go upload student videos now, but rest assured, the quest for the key to making applicants relax is not over. Not Even Close.

The Past isn’t the past

Though I mayn’t be considered ‘seasoned’ in my second quarter at the Josef Korbel School, I’m at least 100% better at life as a result of graduate school. And I’m not the only one. Stories of internships, summer plans, course content, new friends, student groups and the like enliven the halls of our humble Ben Cherrington Hall. But amongst all of the rallying about the present and future, I implore you to consider the past. As David Mitchell says, “Ain’t no journey that don’t change you some.”

Where have you come from? What has made you the person you are? To what events and to whom are you indebted for the lessons, ideas, sense of self that are all things ‘you’? For example, I owe my abstract communicative abilities (deficiencies?) to my dad, who sleeps very little, and talks very much. And countless authors, dead and alive. And Dr. Donnelly, who’s insistence on my respect if not love for, Niebuhr has made no small difference in my understanding of the framework under which the POTUS is operating concerning at least his foreign policy, and at most, his personal life.

In LA Confidential, a disgruntled newly appointed Lieutenant Ed Exley asks a seasoned Jack Vincennes why he became a cop. He answers a little morosely, “I don’t remember.” Korbel has an impressive excess of qualified speakers whose career tracks we are all jealous of. Wait for the connection. I have yet to hear a speaker who doesn’t know why they are doing what they are doing. In that confidence, they set an example for us. So, let’s look to the past every now and then to the sagacious advice of the greeks and, “Know Ourselves”… your life depends on it.  

I’m not asking why, just… How come?

Such tactics as buzzwords, the inter-web, and restructuring the question won me an undergraduate degree. Yeah, that’s not going to work here. Here, we sleep 4 hours a night only to complete a solid 49% of our required tasks (on a good day), and make up for it by daydreaming of our days as original G’s in our respective field. For some of us, (you know who you are) that means profiting from the system already in place. For some of us (you know who you are), that means changing that same system in order to witness the unfolding of international humanitarian projects that you helped create. For some of us (you don’t know who you are), that means changing the world.

From what I know of my classmates, we already have done an unrealistically amazing job of impacting our respective world’s. Or World capital ‘W’, for those of you who think we’re all in this together (you know who you are). Kudos to Brad Miller for his secret selection formula for rocking student bodies ( I mean the student body as a whole, not… n/m). And Kudos to us for suspending reality to immerse ourselves in this dreamworld of theory vs practice, finance vs development, us vs them. Every day has been an adventure. Maybe it’s the opposite of seasonal depression because the weather here remains at a cloudless 78.2 all day, only to drop into breezy 60’s at night. Maybe it’s that our minds are expanding with new information and new relationships. One can never be too sure about how it is that life’s magic suddenly opens your eyes. I’m not crazy, this place is really great, and we’re really great. I can attribute my current ‘sleep when I’m dead’  lifestyle to said magic. And besides, sleep’s overrated . Thank the universe for kafe (and int’l students teaching you new words, among other things).

So, enough about them, let’s talk about me. I’m a Development turned GFTEI (are  you ready for the cracking of that code? Wait for it… waaaiiit… Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration) Master’s Candidate with a certification in Global Health on the MI track (meaning I’ll be leaving for Peace Corps after course completion…contingent upon course completion, I should say). I’m not doing as well as I want, but I’m doing as well as I can, and well is well. As the Dalai Lama says, “All you can do is all you can do. If you can’t do it, don’t worry about it!” I like that philosophy. But I’m a DL fan girl, so.

So, yes, things are intense, and sensory input is in overload-mode at all times. And I thought I was anxious when I was applying. HA! it’s only the beginning… wahahahaha…. but seriously folks, if you have the je ne se quois, and are ready to apply, please feel free to call text email carrier pigeon anytime.

 

We’re all in this together,

Moriah Lee (taking suggestions for cool coin names)