Always expect the unexpected

20 Dec

When I envisioned a Master’s program in International Education, I imagined studying comparative education across different countries.  But to my surprise a Masters in International Education meant different things to different people. The program at our school was not perfect, in fact it was far from being perfect; however, there was structure, mentoring and logic (sometimes) behind it and to some extent that’s all we needed. I think many of us started the program having more or less an idea of what we wanted to get out of it while some others knew exactly what they wanted right from the beginning. Whatever the case was, I’m certain we have found our way and purpose throughout the course of the program. In my case, I only knew I wanted to do something in the area of Inclusive Education, not quite sure exactly what. After taking a Politics, Conflict and Education class it became clear to me what I wanted to do and in what direction I wanted to go.

We have also found each other in this journey. I don’t think anyone came looking for “new friends”, certainly not me. Life happens and it’s inevitable not to get attached to people especially after spending long hours working on projects together, bouncing ideas off each other, starting a blog together, organizing a student-led human rights colloquium, helping each other with the job search, proof reading each others’ documents, crying out of stress to each other, helping one another move from one tiny apartment to another tiny apartment, traveling to CIES in Puerto Rico together and celebrating both our achievements and misfortunes. We have become good friends.

We have also found our own unique way to network in both social and academic ways. I argue that I’m not good at the latter, but I’ve learned and found my ways. The art of networking doesn’t come easy to everyone (me) and it is exhausting!  It took me a while to realize that it’s okay to send an email to a complete stranger asking for an informational interview and to send one or two reminders to the same person if you haven’t heard back. At the end of the day you have nothing to lose, so why not try. In my (short) experience I found out that the key to all networking situations you might encounter is 1) to be yourself-don’t overdo it 2) to be clear about your goals and purpose and 3) to be straightforward – don’t circle around and waste people’s time.

Throughout the program the writing process gets easier. At least for me the writing process had always been difficult. Sometimes my brain thinks in Spanish while trying to write in English and/or vice versa. It can be very confusing and frustrating, but I can say that after all the practice, the readings, friends tips and a copy of English Grammar for Dummies my writing has considerably improved. Also, throughout the program the reasoning process becomes harder and more analytical. The moral, logical and ethical become a paradox and seem to get farther away from reality.

Professors came and go throughout the semester/s and some were more willing and responsive than others. It takes one Professor to make a difference and in our case it was Professor B. who made that difference. She made an impact on many of us during our first semester by giving us the motivation many of us where looking for after a totally confusing and unexpected first semester. She became our mentor and inspired us in one way or another.

This cycle has come to an end and many things didn’t go as I expected, but that’s what life is all about- isn’t it? We have to make of it what we want with what we have. Despite the struggles and differences we had with the program design we took it upon ourselves to make it what we wanted to. We spoke up, we came together, we created and we took control over the direction of our education. I found my puzzle piece that fits well with my meaning of MA in International Education and I know what direction I want to go about.

I face uncertainty in terms of the near future, it’s scary and stressing at times, but I feel confident that I’m prepared as I have the skills, the drive and the support to succeed out there in the “real world”.  I have done it once, I can do it twice.

Can’t wait for life to happen and cross paths someday somewhere with my fellow classmates/my good friends.

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2 Responses to “Always expect the unexpected”

  1. Devin January 10, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Here here!

  2. Devin January 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I’m really realizing how valuable the networking aspect of these programs are. An MA candidate friend of mine told me when I started the program that grad school is not about the classes you take, it’s about the connections, etc. that you make. I think it’s the kind of process that just continues on with time. Here’s to CIES 2013!

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