I started this blog in May 2011, a few weeks after my undergraduate graduation. I coined the name “Liz in Service” because I thought it sounded cool, but little did I know how much meaning it would have for the next few years and the rest of my life. I had drawn out a plan that went from AmeriCorps to Peace Corps, but didn’t know what would happen after my three year service journey. Maybe I’d love teaching? Crawl back to journalism?
None of those ended up happening. However, Peace Corps, as I wrote in my statement of purpose, made me well-aware of what I needed to do afterwards: “Although my Peace Corps experience is invaluable and is teaching me more about our humanity and myself than I ever imagined, a stirring sense of patriotism shook me this past year. I feel the urgency to return to fighting social issues in urban America.”
It’s hard to explain this revelation — because I know there’s much more development work to do around the world. But working in the South African school system made me so grateful for American education, regardless of its issues. To say it lightly, I’m looking forward to experience a public school system that is (for the most part) trying to make reasonable decisions and policies.
Although education is an important social issue to me, I’m not a person who should be teaching — a newfound Peace Corps discovery. Just because I’m passionate and have a bachelor’s degree in no way means I’ll be a good teacher. Teaching is an art and takes a special kind of person. I’m not that person. My passion leads to quite the contrary — to youth development and “behind the scenes” in education.
I decided to apply for Master of Public Administration/nonprofit management programs with a future goal of creating a nonprofit that specialises in journalism and leadership enrichment in urban areas. USC already does this, and gave me the opportunity to mentor in South Los Angeles. I’d like to make this idea bloom into something more widespread.
Through journalism, urban youth would learn about local governance, be inclined to write more, gain the confidence to speak up and ask questions, celebrate the overshadowed good and stand against injustice, which would build social capital.
I’ll always believe in the power of journalism. I know any kids who were able to report on his/her community would realise where they fit into the grand scheme of things. I hope this knowledge would eventually inspire them to make change in their communities.
I had the choice of going back to USC or heading to New York City. I thought a lot about going back to doing youth development in Watts, and having a pretty solid understanding of the city, culture and politics. So simple! But, it’s time to expand my horizons outside of the California bubble.
I accepted my offer at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service today, which was my top choice. The program aligns with exactly what I want. Not to mention, I’ve talked to several RPCVs and all had good things to say. (The RPCV network is pretty solid there and I already feel welcomed!)
I’ll be moving to NYC to start part three of the service journey. I’ll always be Liz in Service and will keep writing because I’ll still be chugging along in the public service world, but this time on the administrative side. Although I’m a delusional and idealistic mid-20-year-old, at least I acknowledge that and know I need to be open-minded and of course improvise.
I’m going to grad school part-time, so I’ll be looking for jobs in the education nonprofit field. My dream job, of course, would be at City Year New York (especially because I now have a red bomber).
Give me a few years to come back and read this post and see how the LAPC plan is — if at all — is unfolding.
I’ll be saying goodbye to stipend living soon, but then will greet thousands of dollars of debt. I’m digging myself into a hole that will be hard to climb out of, but it’s all worth it to me because it’s for a purpose I strongly believe in.
See you soon, NYC! LA, I’ll always love you for your diversity, food, sunny days, culture, courage, complexity and way of life. Until we meet again.
Yours in debt and delusion,