Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Diplomat

Before I came to Japan I did an internship at the Colorado International Trade Office. I even got to meet and speak with the state's Governor. I loved that job, but it was after all an internship and therefore unpaid. It did not put any sushi on the table.

But I learned a lot. I learned that even after having attained my bachelor's degree in International Business, there was still a lot that I didn't know about "international." I learned a great deal about myself as well! I figured out that I am not a hard-selling international corporate marketeer. I prefer a soft touch, I prefer to make international connections through friendships, not sales. I absolutely loved learning about communication and protocol among different cultures.

I was fortunate enough to have been offered a staff position within that office, but it was a far cry from the international career that I envisioned for myself. When I discussed my options with the personnel officials there I was told that if I wanted to BE international, I needed to GO international. In short, I'd never been out of the United States and needed to get my feet wet on international shores. They said anywhere, anything was fine - just go, spend a year overseas, come back and try again for one of the higher level positions.

I went to my university's job placement and counseling office and researched international positions. Pretty much every overseas job was for teaching English conversation in Asia. So that's where I applied. This all took place in February, exactly 20 years ago this month.

Much to my surprise, much to my horror and delight, I was offered a teaching position within two weeks of having applied. And they even gave me 24 hours to think it over. Wow, that was a tough decision. Is that really what I wanted? I was the biggest leap I'd ever taken. I said yes.

It wasn't exactly working for a huge international corporation overseas. Actually it wasn't anything like that. It was teaching English conversation to children and adults in a small town in western Japan. I wasn't really convinced that I like it. But keeping in mind that it was just for a year, just one year, I stayed. I planned to go back and apply for a position in the state department - hoping that one day I would work my way up to Diplomat. I never made it back to apply for that position.

Fast forward 20 years. Twenty very hard, very fun, at times very lonely years. Somewhere along the line I learned the language and the customs. I've made friends with some incredible Japanese women.

When I started scrapping about 13 years ago, I never dreamed that I would ever be good at it (which is still open for interpretation). I never dreamed I would one day teach it to my neighbors. I never dreamed that scrapbooking would be the key to me being an international diplomat. That really sounds extreme, but these past several months I have been so blessed to be able to use my scrapbooking skills to form and enrich friendships with Japanese women.

You probably remember my eyelash-perm adventures. The lady who does these eyelash perms saw a few of my scrapbooking pages and asked me if I wouldn't decorate her beauty school diplomas. I was honored.

I have no idea why this photo is so bad. 
But these are the two finished layouts in frames.

When I look back at the tapestry of my life so far, I see the beautiful design that scrapbooking threads are weaving in my journey. Its amazing to me that I can use scrapbooking as a way to serve and honor my friends.


Lulutoo said...

Well said, Holly. :) I agree it's so much more than just scrapbooking. It's friendships, being there for people you've never even met, sharing, caring, all of that and much more. What an honor that you were asked to decorate that important document. She couldn't have asked a more talented person!

Busy Bee Designs said...

Holly, I loved reading your story and how your dream to be a diplomat became true through a more unconventional manner :). You should totally scrap that, just like you wrote it. The diploma looks gorgeous! I wish you lived closer by so we could get together.