Doing What You Love: One Year In

Hey World,

 Life is passing, adventures are happening, and I haven't been taking you with me. To be honest, it's a bit selfish. Since Christmas, I've still not shared my pictures from Italy. Or Sri Lanka. Or my recent safaris. My dog's grown bigger, I've turned 25, my dad came to visit, and I ended up delaying my June trip until now. 

I'm 25. Twenty-five. Quarter of a century! And all I can think about (three months later) is: can it get any better than this?

In the past year, so many things have fallen into place. I have a wonderful job. And a beautiful goofball dog. An amazing man. Memories from around the world. 

"You are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you engage in. 
You are what you take from these. 
You are the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air, the brightest list and the darkest corner. You are a collective of every experience you have had in your life. 
You are every single day. 
So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge and existence. Let the words run through your veins and let the colors fill your mind."

---

The last weekend of July, I celebrated my one year anniversary of living and working in Tanzania (round two). I took the weekend to relax, read, and reflect on what my first year in my position and my town meant to me.

The growth – both personally and professionally – I have experienced in the last year is unfathomable.

Personally, I have dedicated my efforts to maintaining a work-life balance, finding peace with my life in Iringa, and sending as much time loving up on Bruce Wayne (ie: making sure his ribs stop showing) as possible. He’s mastered a few key words, and continues to prove that cupcakes are in fact his favorite food. 

Family photo outtakes
I’ve found love here with my BF, and we too are coming up on one year together. It’s refreshing to be in a relationship where we both committed to honesty, rational thinking, and compromise from the very beginning. Never would I have thought I would look forward to watching SciFi episodes or eating chickpeas, but I guess love does that to you. He probably never thought he’d be in so many selfies or have to cook minced meat for the bear-dog instead of going on a date; so clearly we’re both open to change. Also, he makes a delicious buffalo sauce from scratch, so he’s a keeper.   


At work, I went from hardly managing myself to hiring a team of 50, and together, led the strategy & analysis that brought more than 20,000 farmers onto contract –surpassing my personal goal of 18,500, and well poised to double our current client base. I revamped and rolled out a new contract system, which had 99.8% accuracy (overall). My questionable trial to serve farmers better by seeing them less is proving to work – the district is on track (and currently surpassing) other districts in re-enrollment, repayment, and farmer knowledge retention. I continue to tackle new development points, and look forward to all of the challenges that my new position will bring.

And now, this one-year anniversary comes with an exciting announcement – I  will be moving into a senior management position by September 1st, and taking over the entire Field Operations (team of almost 150 individuals) to serve this season’s clients (estimate: 18-20,000 farmers). Talk about icing on the cake.

High-level Field Team: Family of Leaders

All the while, I've managed to also explore Malawi, Italy, Vatican City, Turkey (Istanbul), and Sri Lanka – as well as four of Tanzania’s best national parks, in the last 12 months. I’m currently en route to Cambodia to write my thesis; and eagerly looking forward to my state-side return come December.

I used to pine away for the sun to set at the end of each day in Muyenzi and the weekend to bring me closer to community, normality, and the mark of a new week. That feeling was similar in New York City. There, I was a survivor. Here, I pray that the week doesn’t sweep by me without my noticing again. I count time in brackets of weeks and months; which makes dates like January or next August seem just around the corner.

The truth is, I love what I do. It’s clich√©, but it’s also true, and I want you to know that it’s very much possible to have it all: satisfying work, satisfying relationships, and time to travel (except money…but I’m young!) My work is challenging, but it is also insanely fulfilling. I’ve used my vacation time wisely, my weekends to my advantage, and am grateful for friends and a BF who never turn down the chance for an adventure.

I’m going to (slowly) get back to sharing the many paths I’ve explored in this past year –  as I simultaneously look ahead and plan the next few adventures.

xoxo,


M

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