State Department

Feeling Like a Boss

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State DepartmentYesterday evening, after a long day of orientation, my fellow Fulbrighters and myself were invited to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the Peace Corp in Turkey at a diplomat’s house. Honestly, nothing really puts you in the mind set of feeling like a boss – at least from my own limited experience – like attending an official State Department garden party, complete with the press chief for the embassy, whiskey and wine on the rocks following freely, bountiful appetizers, and a podium that actually had the U.S. seal on the front of it.

I’ve never seen that seal on the podium – let alone be treated and pampered as I had last night. “I could get used to this,” I thought loudly enough to myself for a few other Fulbrighters next to me to drink along to that sentiment.

However, the feeling of being pampered and exceptional didn’t last all that long – especially once we started mingling in with the Peace Corps volunteers from fifty years ago. There was one man in particular, whose name I regrettably didn’t manage to catch, who saw a group of five of us huddled in the corner unsure of exactly how to act in situations like this . Smiling broadly, he approached us all and started praising us for our efforts in teaching English and acting as “citizen diplomats.”

Interested, we all asked about how his experience in Turkey was, as well as what he did after the Peace Corp. As soon as he began, we were all rapt in attention: going into the Peace Corp right after completing a Masters in Byzantine History he taught English in Turkey for two years at the start of the 60s. Returning home, he endured extreme culture shock as he completely missed the birth of theĀ radicalismĀ of the 60s, so he fled to Vietnam, Thailand, and Afghanistan to teach English.

While abroad, he told us, he became disillusioned with U.S. policy – especially since he was teaching in Vietnam right up til the Tet Offensive, and he first hand realized the purposelessness of war. Eventually, he returned to America with the goal of entering the State Department in a bid to try to shape future foreign policy into something less bellicose, and more along the lines of using “citizen diplomats.”

That’s when all of this really hit home – my being in Turkey, my representing America, my future efforts to teach English. This man was one of the most impressive people I’ve met, yet he was so humble – so willing to help. I’m sure underneath it all, he was the one who was truly feeling like a boss.

5 thoughts on “Feeling Like a Boss”

  1. Some of the most boss people are the ones who seem to be more focused on what they’re doing than who they are. I’m glad to hear that you’re having cool experiences in Turkey.

  2. It’s amazing how much living in another space, culture, and interacting with people of other cultures, languages, histories can push things into perspective for you, for the spaces you occupy.

    I’d say self-reflection is what makes people -no matter how many years of experience they have- feel like a complete and utter boss.

    Unless you’re Springsteen, in which case you were just born with it.

    1. I completely agree that living in other spaces, really anything outside your comfort zone, inherently challenges a person and pushes them into being more than they normally would be.

      I think more than just self-reflection is needed to feel like a complete boss. There also has to be some realistic outside standard against which you can measure your success. Nothing too ridiculous of course, otherwise you’ll shatter your self esteem, but some normal healthy competition for what you are aiming for really drives home your self-worth. Of course, Springsteen is just a Boss of his own.

      Thanks for the comment, Risha! I hope to see you around more.

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