that word conjures up any number of visuals…free in the sense that i had my last exam today and so i am unencumbered by school-related stress…or in the sense of the hot chocolate one of my bosses bought for me today…or in the sense that i am working for free because my visa won’t allow me to be employed.

so far it isn’t that big a deal…it is fulfilling my capstone requirement back at tulane and allowing me to learn in a real sense, while doing, instead of the controlled sense of a classroom.

and it is…

my first few days i sat at my desk feeling useless and self-conscious. and although i’m still self-conscious my desk is now scattered with papers and research and drafts for four projects. i now have e-mails and meetings and planning. and it feels good. scarey…but good.

the office asked me to join their work not for my public health skills but for my history as a journalist. there is so much writing involved in everything we do that my professor and the program manager were almost giddy with the prospect of having someone write…just write (athough i will be doing more than that).

and that is the cool part…taking a skill that i have and honing it to this new field while simultaneously crafting new skills. i’m going to organize and facilitate focus groups, and conduct interviews (in the research/acadmia way as opposed to the journalism way) and put together literature reviews and reports.

and it is all terrifying because this is the real thing. but it so inspiring because these are the skills i want, the skills i need, to go out into the world and work – not just theorize.

folks keep asking me about my “what next”. queen of the two year plan, this stretch of time i’m in is a part of my slightly extended (thanks katrina) two year plan. next up? application for a fellowship that would take me back to africa or off to latin america (i haven’t been there yet). if this gig keeps up like it is…i think i’ll be good competition for that program and set on a course for my next two years.

hmmm…free…armed with possibilities…choices…options…free to choose…

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