Monday, March 17, 2008

a retrospective 10-minute walk

This morning I walked down the southeast stairwell of the Tanner Building on BYU campus and came across a wall for the MPA (Master of Public Administration) program, from which I graduated a year ago. My face was plastered on the wall in at least four different pictures, but the one that took me back to a year ago was my graduation picture. There on the first row (yes, I am short), four people in from the left side, I stood with cap and gown and curly hair. I remembered that day and all the work leading up to it and all the anticipation after it. As I exited the Tanner Building and walked across campus to the library, I retrospectively reviewed the last year.

I had a lot of questions a year ago: Will I marry Matt? What will Ghana be like? Where will I find a job? Should I look for a job that is close? What KIND of job do I want? When will my net cash flow be positive again? I was on the crusp of a sparkling and unknown future. Here's a rundown of how everything has played out:

Ghana. I experienced a culture that brought questions about poverty and development to the forefront of my mind. It was a poignant experience for a lot of reasons, a few of which include being an obvious tourist, talking to people who aren't sure where their next meal might come from, seeing organizations that are doing amazing work!, feeling like I represented an opportunity for money over an opportunity for friendship, and trying to determine the balance between improving a society and respecting that society's roots.

Summer internship. The job I found--one which kept me close enough to see how things would work out with Matt and short-term enough to allow me room to maneuver if things didn't work out--was a summer internship with a local microcredit organization. My job was financed by a think tank back east, so I went to D.C. twice to be trained and to reflect on the results of my summer work. Since the work I did was based in Salt Lake, the organization I worked for did not appreciate the work I was doing. I don't think I've felt quite as under valued in other jobs I've had. The tastes left in my mouth from that experience include disappointment and clarity. I feel the microcredit industry has a long way to go before I can feel confident about it. But I came away knowing that was NOT the organization nor sector I wanted to work for--hence, the clarity.

Marriage. I got married on September 8, 2007. It was a wonderful day that started off with a wonderful sealing. Our honeymoon to Park City was the start of us settling into each other, and we have delighted in our progress since.

Thumb-twiddling. After we got married, I had no definite plans. I wasn't sure if I should be looking for something long-term while Matt was still throwing around the idea of graduate school. So after being crazily busy, I found myself struggling with so much time on my hands. I found a part-time job as a tutor for two African students. I took on card crafting and established a well-organized home. I planted bulbs. I swept our driveway every day. I tried to make friends in the ward. I practiced the piano and guitar. I made bread. I read. I went on long walks and got to know our neighborhood. It was a good time for me.

A real job! After all that twiddling of the thumbs, I was hired to teach two EMPA (Executive Master's of Public Administration) classes for the winter semester. In December I put together syllabi for a Communications class and a Writing class. The first day of class--January 8, 2008--was memorable for all the nerves I felt. As I drove up to Salt Lake to teach the first two-and-a-half-hour class, I gulped down buzzing thoughts that questioned who had thought that me, a recent graduate, teaching these two classes was a good idea. From that day to now has been such a growing experience that I feel I can compare it to the mission.

So, back to that picture in the Tanner Building. The reason I was walking down the stairs in the Tanner Building was because I had just finished a meeting with the director of the MPA program about working through some challenging difficulties I am currently facing. But the meeting ended on a positive note about ways to improve and progress for upcoming years. I think that juxtaposition sums up the last four months pretty well.

It has been a good year. I have tried to stop banking on absolutes in the future so I can start investing myself more in the present. I was happy to consider last year's adventures and successes...and I hope the next year will be just as interesting and fulfilling.

2 comments:

Jacob, Emily, and Jason said...

Tricia--I really enjoyed reading this post. You certainly have done a lot in the last year, and I think it's great that you took a little time to reflect. I also think you've made some great choices, and I'm just so happy to see you so happy! You are really an inspiring person, and I'm glad that I get to be related to such a neat lady! You keep me constantly motivated and impressed by all that you do, think, and aspire to! I wish you the best alway, and I thank you for the uplifting post!

Rebecca said...

Great post, Tricia.