Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 27 – Looking Ahead

The real world: it’s still a scary and far off place. Even though I just entered my graduation date in to my GCal and I just had what could actually be considered my first job, my decision to join the Peace Corps to earn in two years what my peers will be earning a month…or a week…really pushes off entering “the real world” for at least a little bit more.

Even though I had always wanted to join the Peace Corps, I don’t think I ever gave it significant thought. If I had, I may have, say, learned a few trade skills along the way. I don’t think the failures of the liberal-arts-but-it’s-okay-because-i-bankers-will-hire-you education has ever been more obvious as when I filled out my “Skills Addendum” for the Peace Corps. Actually, I didn’t fill it out. I left the entire thing blank. They called me and told me that I hadn’t returned that part. I told them I could probably teach English. Thank you college education…for teaching me how to speak English.

So obviously I had not put much time into actually thinking about the Peace Corps and what they might ask me to do. The only thing I even knew for certain about the Peace Corps is that it is hot. You either go to Africa, or Latin America, or Southeast Asia…wherever you go…it’s hot.

So I was a bit surprised when during my interview I was not only offered a nomination (I still think my application was majorly subpar), but I was told where I’d likely be going: Central Asia.

Umm, where?

Central Asia: Tajikstan, Uzbekistan, Krghyzstan, Kazakstan.

Oh, but of course. At least I did restrain myself from saying “Oh! Like in Borat!” But without Borat I don’t think I would’ve known any of those to be countries. Seriously…wtf? Peace Corps is supposed to be HOT, not in soviet Russia. I actually don’t think I could name a part of the world in which I have less interest. My best friend is an Econ major at Cornell. She’s also studying Russian because she wants to be able to apply to econ knowledge to studying the economic effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union. When she first told me this, I did not restrain myself from telling her how miserably boring that sounded. But oh well…to each his own…until you start assigning me to live in Kazakstan for two plus years of my life.

But I quickly reminded myself that the purpose of the Peace Corps is to serve others – not oneself – so I was thankful for the offer and decided to start reading up on this ominous Central Asia.

I find it entirely fitting to report that Dartmouth’s library contains only one shelf of books on Central Asia…located in the corner of Stack Annex B. “Where is Stack Annex B?” you ask. (And I understand the asking, after 3 years of being here, I had to pull out the map for this one.) Well, to get there, you first have to go into the old part of the library…y’know that part that has cells to lock oneself in while studying for exams and generally remind me of a prison with its metal rows of books and short ceilings. And then you go DOWN the stairs. (Up until today I did not even know this was a viable option.) TWO levels. (The only redeeming factor of the stacks is that it generally has pretty views, if you overlook the studying in a prison part. But there aren’t pretty views when you’re two levels below ground level…I guess at least with how short the ceilings are you’re really only one though?) And then you wander around Stack Level B for a few minutes not finding the DS’s anywhere until you see a sign that says “More D’s this way,” And you follow it through an airtight door into STACK ANNNEX B, a nice, carpeted room whose isolation makes “sex in the stacks” sound like a joke of a challenge. (It was way riskier when/where I did it.) And then you find the DS row, and then you learn that you actually have to turn on the light at the end of the row (on a 15 min timer) in order for you to see your selection of Central Asiatic Journals and Prehistories of the Silk Road.

And only then do you realize that you need not bother reading any of these books, because you already learned quite a bit about Central Asia by the size and location of Dartmouth’s Central Asia collection.