Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Turn the Page: Closing the Chapter that is American Voices

"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."
-Winston Churchill

An oft quoted sentiment on this fair blog. As previously mentioned, I submitted my resignation to American Voices, where I had been the Communications Director for the last two years. It was a hard decision because I really loved the work I did: cultural diplomacy to countries in conflict, and running the flagship musical diplomacy program for the State Department. Lotsa travel, lotsa adventure. Many, many people commented that I had the best job in the world, including a lot of Staters, who said they wanted my job. And yet I walked away.

Why? For a number of reasons, some I will share and some I won’t.

The most important reason: I was burnt-out. Twenty months of putting out fires had left me burnt-out, and I needed to disconnect. It was full tilt from the day I started. I stepped into a communications office that did not exist, and I had to build it from scratch. And build it, I did. But such unending toil takes its toll.

I can't say that I always loved the virtual office. The irony is that for someone who wanted a nontraditional 9-to-5, when I got it I did not exactly love it. I found the virtual office to be very isolating. I missed the basic interactions that come from having co-workers and colleagues to bounce ideas off of, not by phone or email but in real life. And I found it very hard to check out of my virtual office. It was a real effort not to start working at 6:30am when I wake up. I usually did for about 30 minutes, before I forced myself away. It is hard when the lines of work and life are so blurred.

But I am grateful for the opportunities that my work offered. I got to travel to some amazing places (Iraq, the 'Stans, Brazil), hear some incredible music and make so wonderful new friends along the way. I learned a lot over the last two years in regards to the practical application of public diplomacy. I played everything from a pd travel agent to pd roadie to pd camp counselor.

I finished my last day in the best fashion imaginable: on a post-tour debrief with Keola and co and the State Department, having a big aloha lovefest about the tour that had just concluded.  It was a fitting way to end my tenure, and gratifying to walk out with my head high. Journey on.

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