A deeply personal look into the life and times of Mr. Veitch.
The views and opinions on this website are mine alone and do not reflect those of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps and it's probably better that way
Just yesterday, I was having a lovely conversation with a China 19 and asked her about her short term and long term ambitions. When she turned the question around on me, I fumbled a bit. Not too long before that, aclose friend of mine recently shared with me her list of goals for her time as a PCV. These two interactions made me realize that my own plans and goals weren’t nearly as concrete or well-thought out as I had believed.
Here and now, I will attempt to elicit, for you and for myself, exactly what those goals and ambitions are. From the small to the large, and the exciting to the mundane, superficial and meaningful, this post will serve as an exhaustive list for me, to look back on as a reminder, and for you, the reader, to perhaps find inspiration (and give me a kick in the ass if I don’t seem to be doing what I said I would).
So here we go:
By January 1st/ end of the first semester:
100 pushups (easy)
1 Minute mile (less likely)
Workout a practical FSOT study plan
Streamline my system of lesson planning.
Have 20, original, fleshed out lesson plans that cover a wide range of learners and skill levels.
Identify, and build guanxi with, the necessary people to create a Brazilian Jiujitsu Club on my campus.
Complete plans for my China backpacking adventure
By the One-Year mark (June 2015)
Do a clean kick-flip
Do a clean kip-up
By COS (June 28, 2016):
Be able to hold an intelligent conversation, in Chinese, on the 4 taboos: Sex, Race, Government and Religion. Gender roles and love too.
100 Books as listed on artofmanliness.com
Be able to navigate Taobao like a local
100 days from 9/15/2014: 100 movies as listed on artofmanliness.com. A movie a day
Find of the day. Where shall I hang you?
"There is a redemptive power in making a choice […] You just decide what its gonna be, who you’re gonna be, how you’re gonna do it. Just decide, and the from that point, the universe is gonna get out of your way […] The first step, before anybody else in the world believes it, is you have to believe it. There is no reason to have a plan B, because it distracts from plan A."
-Poorly remembered and paraphrased from a Will Smith interview
I caught a lot of flak after graduating for “sitting on my ass”, not committing to a steady job and apparently having no solid plans for my future. You know, the typical post-grad struggle.
I made the decision to join the Peace Corps and nothing else mattered.
For an entire year before leaving, I bounced around from job to job and even enrolled in a computer science school. I appeared indecisive and immature to most people around me and I suppose their assumptions made sense. Still, no one ever asked me why I did what I did. They observed and interpreted and were quick to label me so that my actions made sense in their heads. I was nominated to serve in the Peace Corps in May, didn’t receive an invitation until November and received a tentative departure date in June.
"Why are you wasting your education to do nothing for a year to work for nothing for two?"
The truth is that more thought went into this decision than any other that I have ever made.Still, as the year dragged on, I admit that at times I was scared. I found myself questioning my decision as much as everyone around questioned me.
Was this the right path for me? Am I ready to take my life seriously? Am I prepared for the real world?
Would I even be accepted?
A week into teaching, I am happy to say that the answer to all those questions is yes.
I have been blessed in ways I never imagined possible. This adventure has fostered in me more growth than any desk job in NY would have; more than the 4 jobs I bounced around in did.
And this is just the beginning.
Durex (changed his name to Zed when I refused to call him Durex)
Galasses (pronounced glasses)
Shanks (or Sharks, can’t read his handwriting)
McGrady (named after Tracy McGrady)
(names of other locals/people that aren’t my students will need it’s own dedicated post)
First home cooked meal in the new place. Lee Veitch- volunteer, teacher, chef
Preview of what’s to come
We finally did it; we, the China 20 are now officially Peace Corps
For anyone having a mental breakdown, here’s an analogy that helped me a bit:
Remember our first day of college? This is kinda like that. We packed your bags, hugged our friends and stepped onto campus to begin a new (and incredibly scary) chapter of our lives.
We may spend our first couple weeks in a funk. For the 4th time in 10 weeks, we’re being thrust out into new surroundings and must create a home. With our new surroundings will come new people and in many ways, a culture that is “foreign” to us (we kinda got used to Chengdu, right?). Once again, we must ask ourselves some hard questions: Where will I fit in? Will my colleagues like me? How long will the food wreck my stomach?
What we will experience now is very similar to that first semester of college, and if you went away it, this is especially true. If you didn’t, I believe that those of us that did can tell you with confidence, that despite all the tears, it does gets better.
How long that takes will vary for everyone but it does pass. Bear in mind however, that jumping that hurdle will take a profound amount of effort.
It is up to us to push ourselves to find a home in our new surroundings. It is up to us to preserve those relationships with the people we love in other areas (and around the world!). Make no mistake, we will have help, but ultimately the bulk of the effort lies in your hands.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe it is that very struggle that makes this journey that much more worth it.
My fellow volunteers, and any staff that creep on this page, I look forward to seeing you all again during IST. Getting to know you these last 10 weeks has been life changing in the best way possible. This first semester will be hard, but for us to have made it this far, a lot of people already believe in us. Now it is your turn to believe in yourself.