I know, the title of this blog post seems strangely unrelated–and actually, it probably is. The only common link between job hunting, the controversial United incident of this week and the Girl Who Escaped ISIS is my mental state of being.
So let’s delve right into that:
The United Incident
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know about the United incident. A United flight from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville was overbooked and, despite offering an $800 voucher, no one volunteered to leave the plane and make room for four crew members who needed to staff a connecting flight. United felt that the only remaining option was to “randomly” select four people to forcibly vacate the plane.
This week, I just traveled to my nation’s capital for the very first time. Despite traversing most of East Asia, I have yet to explore much of my own country–in fact, my trip to DC was only the second time in my entire life I set foot on the East Coast.
Although I was only there a mere five days, I have to say that I enjoyed the city immensely… and here’s why:
- The architecture
The West Coast is ugly. I’m sorry, it’s the truth. Much of the American west looks post-apocalyptic with its vast swaths of deserts, strip malls, and architecture that makes a Soviet commune look beautiful. There are few, if any places in the west where one can take a city stroll and honestly say it’s charming.
Ok, I’m biased about this subject matter (international relations being my main area of focus, and me being a woman), but since entering my graduate international relations program I’ve noticed something quite striking:
Males outnumber females. By a very large number.
In my Chinese International Relations and Security Class, there are 5 females and perhaps 15 males. My other classes also hold the same demographic. I always imagined international relations to be a relatively balance degree of gender (it’s not engineering), but I was alarmed by the contrast. International Relations (IR) is basically an extension of politics–and there are no women in it.
If you couldn’t tell, I grew up a fantasy nerd. My brother loved fantasy books and passed the tradition onto me–which meant that in 5th grade I was reading the Hobbit, and by the end of the 6th grade I had already finished the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
After reading Lord of the Rings, I was a diehard Eowyn fan. She was the only female in the entire series to kill a nazgul. Not only that, but she disguised herself as a male to participate in the war to prove herself. What. a. badass.
It’s only been one day and we are already starting to see the damage. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The disappearance of the Climate Change page on whitehouse.org. Re-negotiations of NAFTA. It’s all really happening.
Yesterday, in a truly humbling event, scores of Women’s Marches were held around the world. Women (and those who support women and diversity) stood in solidarity for equality, love, and women’s rights. I was rooting for all of you.
Although these marches spanned the globe, they mostly represented a fight for U.S. domestic policies. Planned Parenthood, immigration, education, healthcare–Americans turned out in record numbers to fight for these rights.
As social media and the internet have already proclaimed, 2016 was not exactly a great year. Dozens of amazing, life-changing and truly respectable celebrities passed away–and most of them, in my opinion, left this world too soon (Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince… just to name a few).
The most devastating public tragedy to occur in 2016, in my personal opinion, is the election of Donald Trump. I’m in disbelief that a bigoted, low-intelligence, tax-evading, rapist could become president. I go into 2017 with a heavy heart and sincere concern about the U.S. and the world. As someone studying foreign policy day-in, day-out, I am extremely aware of the damage an unpredictable president like Trump will do, and it is very frightening indeed. I went into graduate school with the high hopes of graduating, working hard to get a job in the federal government and serve under the first female president–and now everything has changed. My future looks uncertain.
Many people often ask me what the most difficult part of teaching in Japan was. The JET Program had a mandatory, two day orientation to teach us about the long, English teaching road ahead. They rattled on and on about isolation, language barriers, and cultural clashes.
Yet they forgot the most important thing of all:
Actually instructing us on how to teach English.
The most difficult part of JET for me was standing in front of 40 middle school students and
entertaining educating them for one hour. I was a journalism and Japanese major–I knew absolutely nothing about education.
Years ago, my boyfriend (now fiancee) approached me and said: “Let’s go to Costa Rica in December 2016.”
Knowing absolutely nothing about the country, I said “Sure. Why not.”
Since boyfriend planned our previous trip, he said Costa Rica planning was up to me.
As I mentioned before, I knew jack shit about Costa Rica. To be perfectly honest–I had to look the country up on Google Maps.
Where does one go in Costa Rica? How do we get there? How do we get around? Do we rent a car? Can we drink the local tap water? What’s worth seeing, what’s not? How’s the weather?
Like most of America, I was devastated on the morning of Wednesday, November 9th 2016. The impossible happened. The United States elected a KKK endorsed rapist to the most powerful position in this country. As a minority, I was horrified; and as a woman, I was absolutely disgusted.
Ill with a hangover and still in a state of shock, I rolled over in bed and reached for my phone. I had a slew of frustrated and hopeless texts from friends around the states. My Facebook feed was awash in anger, denial and filled with dispute. I opened my WeChat account to find…