Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mark Twain

"I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them."
-Tom Sawyer Abroad, Mark Twain
This past week has been especially harrowing. In the slight amount of time we've had since classes have actually finished, there is the consolidation of (at least for me) 11 years of my history into a few boxes, and jettisoning whatever doesn't fit into the storage unit to be recovered upon my return. It's an interesting side trip down memory lane that hopefully won't take me too long. I'm planning on being in the DC area for the entire week preceding the beginning of the mentorship to get the apartment arranged and visit some long time friends that I haven't actually seen in person in quite some time.
Last week I journeyed to our nation's capital with a classmate intent on meeting with my mentor, and seeing the actual location where I'll be living. We actually managed to work rather well as a team on the way there and back, despite both of us being very take charge type personalities. So, Mr. Twain, we found out we don't hate each other. It's a major paradigm shift to go from living right in the middle of the Bronx to the suburbs of DC, questions arise every so often in my mind if I'll actually be able to handle the culture shock, but, stay tuned here, it should be interesting. I managed to trip over a 'New York Style deli' close to the apartment complex - which prepared some excellent sandwiches, had some good coffee, and cakes from Junior's. They will likely be seeing a good deal of me while I'm there.
My meeting with the mentor went well, I felt, and everyone in the office seemed excited to have me coming on. We spoke briefly about some cursory ideas relating to the project they decided to put me on, and I expressed my interest in being involved. After returning to New York, I was also able to read the writings of NUF's 2010 fellow that worked in a different section of the same office. Having done all this legwork, I now feel more informed about what opportunities and challenges I might face during the course of the mentorship.
And so, the end of an era, to begin anew. Like a phoenix rising out of the flames...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Here I am, back on the road again

At a certain point in history, I was constantly traveling. My parents lived in a different section of the country from me during my college years, when we were young, we went on so many road trips they simply became a matter of course. But for the past decade plus, my entire life has centered around the Bronx, and teaching, or translation/interpreting. For the past 12 weeks, we've been in a crucible - a container specifically designed to withstand fantastic temperatures, while at the same time allowing the metals within to compose a supposedly stronger, more resilient alloy. We've been tested, and tried, and not found wanting. Truly, we have woken up this morning to a much deeper understanding of the life process occurring around us, to a clearer perspective of our roles in it, and a renewed sense of purpose. Each of our personalities - all of us bringing worthwhile leadership qualities, - had begun to mesh, we each played off each other, we all contributed to make the classes we began and fought and worked through, the best that we could, and we had all come to rely on each others' strengths, become a unified team keeping each other afloat and keeping the communication very open, not unlike a Spartan phalanx.

And now we are off to widely disparate, very far away places.Many of us (including myself) have networks already where we're headed, and so will be far from alone. Though we won't be able to simply turn to a classmate during a budgeting issue and say "hey, how did we do this on the last case study?" Or, "I'm about to publish this OpEd, can you look at it real quick for me?" or, "Is this supposed to be a chi - squared analysis? Or a regression equation?" The process is a bit more difficult. Ah well. It's amazing how, despite our resistance, we've become so amazingly reliant on each other. I guess this is what Jim Collins is talking about when he suggests 'getting the right people on the bus'. Today was bittersweet: we were all excited for the new opportunities, sad that it won't be until January when we're all in the same space again.

And so, following the theme of a bit of song, Bob Seger: