‘Tis the Season
“Please (briefly) describe your career goals, your personal passions, your interest in our program. What personal experiences have motivated you to embark upon this career path? Where do you see yourself in five years? What steps have you personally taken to improve your community? Where do you see yourself in ten years? Why do you think you can do this? Why are you the most suitable candidate for this position? Why should we choose you over anyone else? Why should we choose you at all?”
Please attach a relevant CV outlining all relevant experiences of your (albeit short) life to date, in detail. We will be verifying the contents of your CV through the use of extensive social media background checks, word of mouth, and possible use of Instagram bots, so consider yourself forewarned. To this end, please ensure your LinkedIn page is up to date and with adequate endorsements. We enforce a strict, zero-tolerance policy for false representation. *Note, a margin of flexibility is granted for embellishment, within reason.
In addition, please select two references who can speak to your competencies. Only references on official letterhead will be accepted (by organizational policy, we are required to add that we are non-partisan and do not prefer certain organizations over others. That said, choose wisely). Please verify with your references in advance. In essence, if you are unable to contend with tedious email exchanges associated with procuring such a letter from a former superior, you are likely not the right fit for us.
The interview stage will be an opportunity for you to equally decide if we are good for you too, but you’ll probably forget that. Through this process, we hope you will gain a true understanding of your personal objectives and interests, or at least, how best to tailor those to our own. We look for self-motivated, hard-working, intelligent individuals who truly drive their own success with tenacity. We very much look forward to hearing how you have done this for yourself.
Because of the rigour required of our people, one of our core community values is resilience. Resilience refers to the ability to take challenges in stride and move forward effectively. Emotional stability within our work place is of the essence. If you currently possess this type of stability, please refrain from explaining in too much depth how you came to attain it. We recognize that hardships are inevitable for people of your age cohort (including this process itself), but in our experience, excessive hardship at a young age is indicative of volatility. Furthermore, we are uninterested in the emotional labour of those who are supporting you, or have supported you to date. Our primary focus is you, as the applicant, and the labour you will bring to our community.
Another one of our core community values is, well, community. Our people are important to us. Family is important to our people, and is likely important to you, too. For this reason, applications will be accepted until the end of the year, at which point our offices will be closed for Christmas the holidays.
We wish you every success in the application process, and a very Happy Holidays for whatever you may be celebrating! Cheers.
One is Silver and the Other’s Gold
It’s December, but there’s no snow on the ground. It’s seems to be ever-green outside because the National Forest Agency supports tree planting to increase tree cover, permaculture and agroforestry. The distribution of seedlings and environmental education has led to flourishing forests and lush farms in many (not all) areas, and reduced deforestation.
None of the new trees are evergreens, so there’s no risk of extra deforestation around Christmas. PVC plastic makes good, sturdy, trees that are easily imported from China alongside their shiny plastic ornaments to deck the malls. Giant silver and gold baubles on trees to remind you how many gifts you need to buy, and make you forget how PVC production releases toxic dioxins anyways.
But for the most part, you don’t need trees or snow to know it’s December. You can tell just from the fact that day by day people are nicer, softer, happier. Probably drunker, too. Once you meet all your deadlines you can go home and spend time with your family, your friends, your colleagues, your dog.
Just a few weeks before, at Thanksgiving dinner, everyone had to go around the circle and say what they were thankful for. At the time, you hadn’t really thought it out, didn’t want to sound corny, and ended up saying something vaguely grateful, related to health and happiness this year and suppressing the urge to make a bad political joke. That was mostly fake, since you haven’t been to the gym since June and you ate enough to gain 5 pounds. But since then, everyday you’re remembering something new to be thankful for, someone else you’d like to hug. Delayed reactions, since everything’s slowing down.
Everything that is, but your social life. With so few days and so many people, what’s one to do? The new friends, the old friends. Close family, extended family. Your most recent tinder date (yikes). Random semi-strangers at the office party. Loneliness can lead to depression, poor health, and even earlier death. At least in December, you don’t feel lonely. If your friends were literally silver and gold, you’d be rich enough to afford presents for all of them.
You didn’t come up for the Christmas bonus this year, but you’re pretty sure that’s okay. Health is wealth, your friends are your health. À ta santé.
I get by…with a little a lot of help from my friends
Looking back on the past year, it’s been a whirlwind of opportunity and growth. If you told me on my 21st birthday what my life would be like on my 22nd birthday, I’d have been floored. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Every day I’m genuinely excited to see what our generation is getting up to; at home, over here, all over the map. In high school one teacher remarked we were the most apathetic year he’d seen in a few years. For years after that I took that to be the dismal truth, we all seemed to be floating. Fortunately, I think we’ve proved him wrong. ‘Millennial’ isn’t a bad word, thank you very much.
Though leaving school has meant a lot of visible logistic and professional changes for each and every one of us, the growing pains are a lot more nuanced. Social media paints a surface-level picture of success and fuels the fire of comparison. Our generation loves our various highlight reels, but there’s no reel for the lowlights. Even when we do choose to candidly share our struggles, it’s carefully curated to make a point, or a joke. Though we’ve outgrown apathy, we haven’t yet outgrown a fear of vulnerability. Though we care about mental health, we’re still hesitant to take care of ourselves, and to recognize when we need to be taken care of.
So here’s me being vulnerable for a second.
For those who don’t know, I’m living in Kenya working through a fellowship in community development. The project is extremely individual-driven, with no supervision, no prescribed schedule. For all intents and purposes, the project is a “one-woman show”, I don’t have formal colleagues, a supervisor or a template to follow. It sounds like a dream- and it is, I feel incredibly lucky to get to do what I do.
Having all the flexibility in the world to do what you want is great. Not having to ask permission to just do what you need to, is great. Having the freedom to direct your own life, is probably the crème de la crème of privilege. But it’s not a total joyride, not some “chill adventure”. Going it alone is tough. Often, going alone doesn’t take you far. And if you’re used to going at full speed, like so many of us are, you better get used to a lot of bumps in the road to slow you down. There is no protocol or precise science for building a network from scratch when you have a BSc. and can claim “fluency in English”. No one prints social code on a flyer for you to read at leisure. Checking everything against yourself gets lonely. It’s hard to navigate for so many different reasons, and there’s no roadmap for when you get stuck.
Like I said, taking care of ourselves rarely comes second nature. Especially for “people” people, taking care of others usually comes first. I know I’ve been doing it my whole life, and it’s a habit that has shaped everything from how I speak, to how I interact with new people, to the career path I’ve chosen for myself. At the same time, I spent a good part of my life truly believing that many people around me were apathetic and unable to provide the support I needed. I believed in the one woman show. I truly felt that being your own emotional support system was the most important thing you could do for yourself, so you never needed to rely on anyone else. I cut out a lot of people. I did a lot of things alone, and was happy to do so. This worked for me, until it really didn’t.
TL;DR- the one-person show is fake news.
My life line is very short- which has me convinced my incredibly good fortune will eventually run out on me. I’m blessed to be able to live my best life, with my best people. I continually find love and support in different corners of my life, and I (seriously) wouldn’t have made it anywhere if I hadn’t. I’ve lived in five different places this year. In every place, I’ve found incredibly kind, empathetic and passionate people, all working for what they believe in. They continually inspire me and keep me rolling, reminding me that even when I feel completely alone, none of us actually are.
What I’m really thankful for this year : though I feel distant in time and space from home, there has been wonderful people who have made me feel at home wherever I go. People I live and work with in Mikei. People who have shown me incredible kindness in Nairobi. Passionate (real) adults who have shown us the ropes in development, in research. My friends at home, my family, my extended family. The incredible cohort of eight superstars working on amazing projects all over the world, who I’m lucky to call “my people.”
The bottom line of this insanely sentimental birthday post is the following: give your people a big hug and show them all the love not just this December, but all the time.
“if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
Asante Sana for Sticking With Me and Cheers to All of You,