Friday, April 29, 2011

Nearing the Finish Line

Boxing up a lot of my school books and readings, looking at the dates on some of the materials, it really hits home. I am 90 days away, for the most part, from being done with my MA in International Affairs, a journey that started in January 2009, or perhaps more accurately, in September 2008 when I attended the information session.

So many images are clear in my mind from those early days. In fact, August 2008 is very clear in my mind - that was when Russia invaded Georgia. I can still see myself getting out of my car in New Rochelle, walking to the train station and having the newsreader's voice on 880 buzzing in my ears. He was quoting Condi Rice who had given a stern warning to the Russians over their "disproportionate" response to the Georgians. I remember thinking how nice it would be to do work that mattered, that was significant, that had meaning.

I had looked into international affairs in May 2008. I called CUNY's chairperson, who didn't return my call. I even remember the person who answered the phone asking me if I lived in New York, because that would have an impact on tuition costs. I recall typing 'international affairs careers' into google to see what it returned in an effort to get a sense of what the field was like. I dismissed it all, simply because the guy at CUNY didn't return my call. And then Russia/Georgia happens, and that changed everything. I began looking into the field a little more, found the information session at the New School on, I think, September 15, 2008. I walked out, excited, feeling this could be transformative.

Two and half years later here I sit. Amazed I've made it this far, sad that all this time has passed, exhausted at the hustle and bustle I have put myself through. But I felt I had to make a change, so I did it, and the moment is getting closer, the days passing by in a blur.

I think back to 2009 - the Fulbright, the Polish, that summer, looking at other schools. Everything seemed so far in the future, and I had a well-paying, albeit very unsatisfying job. It's easier to say you are making a career change when you have to pass through 2 years before you actually have to put your talk into action. That's what I'm facing now.

Reflecting on these past 27 months, the memories are as bright as day. I still remember that first night, that first semester, reading Leviathan as I was doing my laundry, going to buy Marx in Forest Hills on a sunny day,  writing the paper on Yugoslavia; reading Polanyi, still in New Rochelle, overwhelmed at the volume of reading assigned each week. As I put these materials into boxes, I tell myself that now that the pressure to get these pages read is no longer, I should go back to read much of this material. Read it slowly, over time, the way I would read any book. Absorb it, enjoy it, reflect more carefully on what it is telling me. I did my best to read everything that was assigned; since I was paying for it, I felt the need to fulfill my obligations to myself.

Ninety days from now, I will be packing my bags in Kosovo after 8 weeks there. I will be readying to make the trip home, preparing to give a short presentation on my work there on September 9, in the same hall where the information session took place in what would be almost 3 years ago to the date. Symmetry is a wonderful thing.

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