Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘election 2008’ Category

Commonality

Posted by quirksalight on April 3, 2011

The most common question I get, considering my educational background, is, “How did you go from biomedical engineering to the Foreign Service?”

Convoluted? Yes and no. There’s a bit of history, and the kernels behind all this were placed a long time ago. In high school, I was on the high school debate team and that ignited my interest in politics and international relations. However, I was rather obsessed with science and had dreams of developing a treatment/device that would revolutionize medicine. It wasn’t until grad school, after being burned out of medical research, when I had to start thinking of, “now what?”. My temporary answer was to take a leave of absence for a year and teach English in Korea. That’s one of the earlier points in this blog, back in 2007.

But in Korea, teaching was one thing, but straddling two cultures socially and linguistically was a whole ‘nother beast. Plus, I came to Korea at a political change; for the first time in 10 years, the progressive party was out of office and the conservatives came into power the month I arrived, March 2008. This combined with my background in Korean culture and language, sciences, and interest in politics led to some interesting discussions with the faculty in my middle school, handling getting punched on a subway, acting as a facilitator for my foreign friends in Korea, and occasionally having to explain what the U.S. government was doing to my students, colleagues, and friends.

I really enjoyed that interaction – facilitating the understanding between two cultures, though not so much the getting hit part. Which led me to starting thinking about the Foreign Service. I always planned to go into public service, someday, when I was on the academic track. But I hadn’t thought about it again until when I was in Korea, pondering my next step. So I did – FSOT exam date was November 5, 2008. I got the acceptance in to the QEP in December 2008, decided not to sign a teaching contract for another year, gambling that I would pass the QEP and get to the OA, which I did. So I left Korea, with a freelance editing gig, prepped for the OA and passed on June 15, 2009. A year later, I was prepping to leave DC for my first tour as a POL officer in Seoul. whew! What a whirlwind…

Posted in ancedotes, commentary, election 2008, Graduate school, Korea, New York, school, Science, Seoul, teaching english | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

What I wore to the Inauguration…

Posted by quirksalight on January 20, 2009

…was PJs, a shawl, and an ace bandage.
Sitting in front of my computer, with a cup of tea and my knitting, I watched the live coverage in the early hours of January 21st in Korea.

Listening to the new POTUS, I am still filled with hope. Which is what we, as a nation, is gambling on, isn’t it? We voted to choose a relatively inexperienced man as the leader of our country because we needed someone who would help us believe in us again. To really live and be “Proud to be an American”… which was hard, in a world that had slowly come to shun our policies and in turn, Americans. Now, it has come full circle, and we, the Americans abroad, can stop having to defend who we are and instead, promote that makes the United States that place that we all call home.

Pride in the nation that I call mine is something I took for granted until I left it. It bothered me, when I applied for my visa status, to sign away my Koreaness. Even stranger to realize that I didn’t exist anymore on my family’s geneological rolls…after so many generations, it ends. I felt that I was giving up a part of myself. But, as I lived here longer and longer, I realized that in my mind, I am and have always been, an American. Who I am, the way I think, the path I have always followed, has always fit more at home than in Korea.

And living out of the US for the first time in a quarter century, I had to defend my country. Anti-American sentiment wasn’t virulent, but existed. As a bilingual, I had explain why our export policies were solid, why we weren’t brash and annoying people, why our government was doing the things they did, to both Koreans and other expats. I received a physical attack for being a foreigner, and had to wonder, what friends meant when they said, “Oh, you’re an American? Really? I didn’t think you were.” Why? What is an American that isn’t I?

Instead of being pulled more and more between the two cultures I live in, I feel that my identity has been more solidified with my time here. I am a Korean-American. I treasure my heritage, the richness of the culture I was born in, and the diversity of the culture I have sworn an oath to. But when push comes to shove, the nation that I will promote and defend is the United States of America.

Posted in 2008 Election, Asian-Americans, commentary, election, election 2008, family, Korea, Korean, Mental Stream, Politics, Social commentary | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hope…

Posted by quirksalight on November 5, 2008

…is a powerful emotion. One of my friends called it “too religious and wishy-washy”, but to me, it’s what keeps you going when times are tough. When you are hurt, stressed, fearful, and/or depressed, it is hope that keeps you taking that step after step until things improve, until you find your solution. It is the hope the drives your determination. You hope that your actions will improve your future, so you go on.

Today, was an amazing day. It was the election of the first African-American to the United States presidency. Do I think that there will a magical new day? No. I do believe that Obama will be the JFK for our generation; reinvigorating our generation into greater involvement in government, for public service.

In a nice bit of coincidence, I also took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), November 5th, 9am-12pm Korea time (GMT +9:00). Feeling drained, and pessimistic, I joined the Democrats in Korea at the Orange Tree in Itaewon for the live election coverage party. And felt hope. Listening to McCain’s and Obama’s speeches, I felt so much respect and hope for the future of our bruised and battered nation. We may be down, but we sure are not out for the count. And it made me want ever more to be in public service, to do something. Yes, indeed we can.
That, is my hope.

Posted in 2008 Election, ancedotes, commentary, election, election 2008, Itaewon, Korea, musings, Nerdity, Politics, Social commentary, thoughtstream, US history | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Palin = Palliative

Posted by quirksalight on August 31, 2008

McCain’s choice for VP is the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.
Why pick such an untested candidate? Hmm… maybe b/c the GOP is looking for a palliative?
Female, check. Young, check. Religious, check. Global warming skeptic, check. Hmm… union, check. NRA, check.
They kind of forgot about experience.

The New York Times quoted Scott Reed in the article, “Choice of Palin Is a Bold Move by McCain, With Risks” :
“In a way, McCain has set a trap on the experience argument,” said Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole’s presidential campaign in 1996, “because if they start picking on her on experience, it’s going to backfire with women.”

Umm…she doesn’t have much experience. She was a mayor of a small town before she started her term as the Governor of Alaska. But the idea that picking on her lack of experience will drive women to the arms of the GOP…. thanks for the pat on the head, GOP. It’s that kind of condescending attitude that drive women AWAY from the GOP.

Posted in election, election 2008, opinion, Politics, Social commentary, US | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Huckabee??

Posted by quirksalight on January 3, 2008

via YouTube….

Posted in amusing, election 2008, Humor, parody, Politics, satire | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »