My personal vision for my life comes in two parts. First, simply put: I want to be happy. I want to do the things that bring me joy. Spending time with my family and friends bring me joy, of course. That’s a given. Oh, and just watching my cat. (She’s hilarious.) But you know what else gives me joy? Knowledge. I love to read. And think. To learn new things. See new things and places. To challenge and expand on what I already know. That’s why a good portion of my floor is covered with overdue library books, why I can’t complete my day without my usual regimen of online news and feminist blog roll, why I jump for every film festival that comes through San Francisco (which are many – it would not be an exaggeration to say at least one per month). That’s also why I regularly attend conferences and workshops, why I always seem to be drawn to the university, why I am pursuing a second Master’s degree. It is in these communities of learning that I feel most energized, stimulated, and really connected.
This first part of my vision is intimately tied to the second: I want my life to be meaningful to someone, to have a positive impact on someone’s life, hopefully many someones and hopefully every day. This brings me joy. The profession that immediately comes to mind that perfectly combines both parts of my vision is a teacher, one whose purpose is to cultivate and impart knowledge. It’s been said that that best way to learn something is to try to teach it. In my experience as a teaching assistant in the Women’s Studies Program at San Francisco State University, I found this to be very true. Teaching asks you to break complex, abstract ideas into easily digestible pieces without losing the integrity of the whole. You are constantly reminded to not take your years of education for granted. Connections that seem obvious to you may not be so obvious to others who have not read what you have read; as a teacher, it is your responsibility to guide them to make those connections themselves. Teaching is also valuable because fresh minds also challenge your assumptions, what you may presume to already be true.
However, this is not to say that my vision for myself is to be a university professor, although it is top on my mind these days. I know teaching does not only occur in a classroom or at a school. (The most important of life’s lessons occur outside of it I think.) It encompasses persons of many professions – a librarian, a staff person at a community center, a journalist, a researcher at a think tank, a museum or gallery curator, a novelist or playwright, a mother or grandmother or nanny, a nonprofit manager and many others. One can find teaching opportunities almost anywhere.
My vision for my community and the world? Let me return to the first part of my personal vision: I want to be happy. But there are so many things that creates unhappiness – when I see racism, sexism and inequality, when there is hate against those who do not fit into normative categories of male and female [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/us/17transgen.html?_r=2&partner=rss&em... (FYI, tomorrow is our National Day of Silence http://www.dayofsilence.org/index.cfm), when women do not have say what happens to their own bodies, when I feel my life is threatened based on the fact that I am female (when walking alone in a parking lot at night, for example)… My vision for my community and the world is for there to be happiness, choice, and self-determination for all peoples. My way of getting there is by teaching – to learn, to understand, and to share.
Being a Correspondent is certainly a step in this direction. It has given me purpose to do just that – to learn, to understand, so I have something to share with each post. WorldPulse offers a community of peer learning online, across geographical and cultural boundaries. We are all students, and we are all teachers. It has helped me see my personal vision for my life, for my community, and for the world come to life.