Thursday, January 24, 2013

HAJET Article: Life After JET

I've been meaning to update my blog, to do one last post, to bring this to an end.  I think it's fitting that I include the article I wrote for the HAJET Polestar January 2013 magazine because it's a summary of what I've been doing and thinking since I've returned to the United States.  I'm getting a little antsy and I'm ready to move on to something new, but I've had a terrific run the past few years.  I have so much to be thankful for! 

Life After JET

I knew early on that my second year in Japan would be my last for a while.  I had a great time in my final year, but I started to prepare for my return home well in advance.  I saved as much money as I could, arranged to be a substitute (supply) teacher for my hometown school district, and knew that I would be living at home.  When I landed in Chicago, and a few days later flew to my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I knew I made the right decision.  I was busy immediately with reconnecting with family and friends and started to work a few days a week as a substitute teacher.

Around mid-September, I got an email from a friend.  The email was about job openings in Iowa, a border state of South Dakota, for President Obama’s campaign.  Iowa was considered a swing state, and it was important for the President to win it since polling statewide and nationally showed that the race was close.  Here’s some trivia: South Dakota has voted for a Democratic president only four times in its entire history since 1892, and has gone overwhelmingly to Republicans in the last 12 elections (= 48 years).  My efforts in my home state weren’t going to change anything. But, maybe I could make a difference elsewhere.

So I applied on a Monday.  On Tuesday I got a call to schedule an interview for Wednesday. On Thursday I got the job offer, I sent the acceptance paperwork back on Friday, and I started the following Monday.  I was assigned to the Iowa City region, so on Monday, September 25th, I drove the six and a half hours from Sioux Falls to Iowa City to start my job.  I had a little training, met a lot of people, and jumped right in. The next morning I left for my actual placement: Grinnell, Iowa.