Looking back…and forward


Sculpey hearts I gave to World Centre friends upon my departure.

I gave these polymer clay hearts to friends upon my departure. (No, they are not edible!)

While I prepared for my departure from the BWC for months, it still felt strange to leave. I realized that up until now, graduations have marked the endings and beginnings in my work–saying farewell to fair Verona to go to Mount Holyoke, four years later leaving Mount Holyoke to fly to Israel. With those commencements, I shared the ritual of departure with hundreds of others. But of course, in real, non-academic life, there aren’t usually huge ceremonies to mark goodbyes. So leaving despite work bustling along as usual felt kind of like stepping out of a room thrumming with people–and then flying 6,000 miles away.

In those final two weeks, I was asked a few times about my experiences over the past two years. What had I learned? I found it hard to articulate, though marriage obviously topped the list. My relationship with Sergey defines my memories. Indeed, I re-read all my posts here, and stories of Sergey started to dominate in November 2013, a few months after we met.

Through experience in my office, I have also learned about–and hopefully improved–certain qualities. Humility and self-discipline proved indispensable in my daily work, and I found excellent exemplars of those qualities in my colleagues.

As I sought to connect my experience with my upcoming studies in rhetoric and composition, I realized that I actually was almost constantly writing in my office. Sure, I wasn’t composing beautiful works of prose analyzing Shakespeare or Dickinson–I was doing “transactional” composition, writing letters, emails, instructions, and memos to accomplish tasks. I suspect that my firsthand experience with business and technical writing will benefit me as I start teaching college composition (in a few weeks!). I’ll have a grasp of what awaits students destined for white collar careers. Further, I think I’ve learned to clarify and simplify my writing, knowing that many coworkers in our super-diverse organization were not native English speakers.

Speaking of which, one thing I failed to learn was a new language. I started with Farsi, which after a few months became an excuse for getting to know Sergey (we have now given my colleague’s Farsi class a reputation for matchmaking)…and our study habits deteriorated. Then together we thought, well, we couldn’t stick with Farsi, so let’s go for an even more complicated language–Arabic! I wish we could have stayed in the class, but I simply could not muster the energy for the required nightly studying. And what about Hebrew? The class started around the time of our wedding, so I was in no state to participate. Now I am trying to learn Russian, though given my track record…well, for this one I have a special motivation: to make Sergey smile with my clumsy attempts to sound out Russian words.

Needless to say, it is impossible to summarize these years of my life, but luckily, I don’t have to! This blog serves as a depository of my memories, a growing memoir; since memories will continue to be made in the new chapter of my life, I’ve decided to stick with writing it. So, I hope you will stick with reading!

Path at Bahjí