Tuesday, March 3, 2015

From Teaching in Thailand to Case Management in Cambridge

*Was Thailand a dream?*  My mind seems to revert to this question often. Despite abundant memories, photographs and lasting friendships, it feels as though Thailand did not happen. As though it just a dream or a very distant memory. It was a shock to the system when I returned home, where I was once again in a liminal, unstable phase. My heart felt divided between Thailand, Ghana, Kenya and the USA, between the dozens of friendships I've made that have manifested in a variety of flavors, abilities and intensities all over the world.

After Thailand and saying goodbye to my Fulbright gang, I backpacked through Thai beaches, ancient kingdoms and genocide memorials in Cambodia, flew to my friends Peace Corps village in Indonesia, and gallivanted around Zhubei, Taiwan with another friend. It was another time of exciting travel and backpacker privilege. Then Boston welcomed me home with the frigid hug of a very snowy winter, complete with one too many snow days and public transportation crises.

It has been nearly 5 months since I left Sansai and almost 4 months that I've been back in America.  My new and current adventure does not have the same exotic appeal as motorbiking through the mountains of Thailand, but it is its own kind of adventure.

After the holidays, in early January, I moved into an apartment in Davis Square with a childhood friend, her college friend and a British guy (we found him on Craigslist). The day after I moved in, I got a job offer. 
Everything was falling into place. After turning down several job offers for teaching in November and December, I was determined to have a job by February. Mid-January, I was offered a job as a Client Advocate / Case Manager with AIDS Action Committee (AAC) at their Central Square office. (Essentially a coach/advocate/social worker for HIV+ clients in the Greater Boston area)

The job:
The past month has been the intense learning curve I was craving. Thrown directly into the chaos of human services, my caseload grew quickly and I began to find my groove as a case manager. Serving as a case manager (client advocate) for AAC means coordinating care for HIV+ clients, everything from referrals for different programs, to housing, to insurance, to food, clothing, jobs, education and everything in between (plus emotional support). The work is fast-paced, engaging (and sometimes enRaging), and interesting. Though sometimes the intensity of the stories/pain are heartbreaking and stay with you past the 9-5 office hours, I feel fulfilled at work. It's a perfect fit for me for now. It is an action-based work environment, while it simultaneously utilizes my inherent counseling skills gleaned from years of spending time with my family as well. Self-care is my biggest obstacle right now, in separating myself from the difficulties of working in direct service positions and all the challenges it brings.

My co-workers (and clients) make me excited to come to work every day. I look forward to work and feel motivated by their wonderfulness. They are exactly the type of energetic, sarcastic, humorous co-workers I was looking for. There is a liveliness to the office that is unparalleled in other communities I've been a part of and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this community. My sassy nature easily slipped into their already goofy, teasing vibe. I look forward to getting to more adjusted to my work life here and building up my case load even more.

Last week I turned 24 and celebrated with my family and the most amazing of friends. I cannot express how much gratitude and love I felt. I feel incredibly lucky to have so many connections around the world and to be so loved. I miss traveling often, but am very happy with my new job. It was about time the US got some of my humanitarian energies. :-)  I am enjoying this new adventure, but I'm sure the cabin fever will kick in soon and I'll need to have an international endeavor...or go into a Phd program...

Until that next trip,
Thanks for reading.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Tomb raider temple!

Hanging out in Indonesia!


Seattle Glass Garden

Sam, Charlie, Ruthie, Anja, Jessye and Anna - Friendly Toast brunch

Anja, Molly & Jessye in Seattle

My bestest roommate Anna and friend since 2000


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