Rajasthan day five (5)

10 12 2015

Today is my fifth day in Rajasthan. Today and tomorrow I will be in Jaipur after coming from Jodhpur and previously Bikaner. 

These towns are similar, all part of the Rajput people’s / former princely states of this area, but have some slightly different atmosphere. 

I really loved Bikane, maybe because it was the first town I visited, maybe because it is smaller than the other towns on this tour, maybe for both of these reasons. There is tremendous poverty everywhere, but Bikaner seemed less desperate, more provincial. Camel carts everywhere.

Junagargh Fort was truly spectacular, the only, unconquered, land fort in all of India. Very interesting to learn about Bikaner’s last maharaji Ganga Singh and his valor fighting in four wars, including the Boxer Rebellion and WWs I and II. 


Hotel Sagar was lovely; staff were kind and let me shower after returning from a camel ride although I had already checked out. Breakfast food delicious. 

 Even the camel tour, which I took as part of an overpriced tour package from a “government-approved” company in Delhi (win some, lose some), ended up being a lovely experience thanks to the generous host Primm from Nepal, who shared stories about 16 years of work all over India and his wife and two children and their life post-disaster back in Nepal. 


Most of all, Bikaner felt safe, and I felt less like a walking dollar sign. 

Jodhpur was a different experience. It seemed everyone, including my hotel host, was on the make. If you stay at Heritage Shubham Haveli, and Raj invites you to take tea with him, just know you will pay for it when you leave. Anyway, the tea is not that good. 

Poverty in Jodhpur felt more desperate, or it was more out in the open, with people everywhere sleeping on sidewalks with their children. I don’t have a lot of pictures, because it feels obnoxious to pull out an iPhone while next to people making their home on the street. I felt awful, guilty, seeing children outside of the sweet shop begging for food, and here I have just bought two shirts and dinner. Jodhpur gave me perspective, so I am glad I was able to visit. Yes, tourists will be charged five or 10 times over for transport and museum fees, but in USD, this is not much money. More important, this money means a lot to people living in desperate poverty. 

I have not seen many tourists, four at my hotel in Bikaner, but none out walking. They must be staying somewhere though, because I saw about 10 tourists at Merangargh Fort in Jodhpur. 

Here’s a view of the old city,which gives Jodhpur the name “blue city”, below. Apparently, lapis lazuli paint helps cool homes in summer and was originally reserved for the clergy class in this neighborhood, though anyone can paint their home blue now. 


The other big site in Jodhpur is Umaid Palace, built at the turn of the 20th century by Maharaji Umesh Singh. Interesting about this building is that it was a kind of Rajasthani “New Deal”–the maharaji’s answer to the drought was to create this palace, which took 15 years and countless workers to complete. 

I am hoping Steve or someone will write a screenplay about Stefan Norblin, the Polish artist who decorated and designed the interior of the palace. His life story is facinating. Famous for his product posters in Poland, he fled with his movie star wife to the Middle East, where he was employed as a portrait artist for Iraqi royalty. He moved to India was employed similarly. Decades later, he moved to San Francisco where he ultimately committed suicide at the age of 60 after learning he was going blind. Screenplay, right?


Consigned to fragrance heaven

31 07 2015

And that’s it for the eau de gingembre, which is now discontinued. It takes so long for me to finish a bottle of cologne, that this one dates back to my married days. Goodbye and thanks for lots of good memories.

#firstworldproblems #whitewine


what a wonderful, unisex scent


this one was unisex too. who knew?


I canceled a job interview.

27 04 2015

No more negative self talk.

It’s done.
There will be another, better job opportunity.
There will be plenty of other job opportunities.
Most of all, there will be more time. If I take a meh job later in my job search, I’ll know I exhausted other opportunities.

Alright, I feel better. Time to finish a final.

Turning down a job

27 04 2015

Seems so foolhardy, when I don’t yet have a job. I am going to call and cancel this interview, because

  • This job doesn’t expand my skill set
  • This job has depth but not breadth it seems. I would be a big fish in a small pond working with two counties, rather than a little fish in a big pond working with multiple communities and teammates
  • Interviews are in the middle of finals week
  • The start date would likely preclude summer travel (with Mom)
  • The location is ~1 hour+ from a major airport
  • Also, I thought I would escape the South
  • The pay is good but not great
  • I am not excited about this job; better to hold out for an opportunity that sounds stimulating

Alright, that gives me the fortitude to call to cancel this interview.

Three semesters down, one to go

6 01 2015

Tomorrow marks the first day of my last semester in graduate school. How did this happen so fast? Life. You’re passing before my eyes already.

Today, the School of Government held their Assessment Center–a day of mock interviews and group exercises for students. I don’t know why more second years don’t take advantage of this. It’s a safe way to get critical feedback on your interviewing skills. I’m planning to take the Foreign Service Officer Test, which for those who are successful, includes a group exercise interview, so I’m happy to get all the feedback I can.

My individual interview experience was helpful. Roger Stancil from the Town of Chapel Hill (who coincidentally managed Fayetteville for 20 years and raised his children there) and Libby Hodges in Planning in Alamance County were my interviewers. Good feedback. Nuts I gathered from this experience:

  • Focus on the resume. The cover letter is an afterthought, if your resume merits a second look.
  • Also, and I knew this, I need to work on putting a bow on my responses. Re: STAR responses, I can speak to situation, my task in the situation, my actions, and the results, but the zinger is to tie those responses back to the job you’re interviewing for. Duh.
  • Last, take my time. Take a moment to think about the question and form a story in my mind that has a beginning and an end.

All in all, a good use of time. The group experience as well was beneficial. I learned, or was reminded, of the importance of framing. Before jumping into solutions, start with answering who are we, who’s our audience, what’s our message? My group got this wrong this afternoon. We jumped right into solving the technical problems without first weighing if there were any adaptive challenges to tackle. Again, very good experience and will be helpful if, knock on wood, I am EVER successful at getting past the FSOT written test, personal narrative, and finally to the in-person interview.

I applied for two jobs this week–one at Durham Technical Community College and another today at the North Carolina Community College System. Whether I get called back or not for these jobs, it’s good to get into the practice of applying, and I need to be actively looking for a job, as the Foreign Service is a Plan B or even Plan C, long-term path.

Another highlight of the day that I want to mentally celebrate is that our Program Director Bill Rivenbark asked if I’d speak about my internship at an upcoming conference. He’d asked our PWE (Professional Learning Experience) professor Margaret Henderson for a recommendation, and she said I had a good paper. Now, it could be that Margaret had my name top of mind, since I sent her a thank you note at the end of the semester (once grades were in, I’m not a kiss@$$), but I’ll take it, since I’ve not had great confidence in my writing in grad school.

WTH, I’ll take this moment to celebrate also, since it’s only to myself, that I made all H’s this semester (save the one P I got in Mediation Skills. Thank you Professor John Stephens for giving out such high marks that my 18.5/20 on our lone assignment wasn’t enough to merit an H. I hate that grading on a curve.)! I haven’t cared for grades as long as I’ve made Ps (P = degree), so it was a wonderful surprise to see the grades appear one by one and have them be Hs. That means I got an H on my 20-page, bear of a paper for economic development seminar and an H in community development. That means a lot, because I was definitely the weakest link in my group with two very smart, planning students.

And that’s ok. I’ll celebrate it. (Shoot anything that flies. Claim anything that falls.)


Workforce Development Dollars — Has your community cashed in?

Lessons learned from leading class discussion

21 10 2014

I just finished leading ~75 minutes of class discussion for my Economic Development Seminar. This assignment has vexed me for weeks, since this class is theory driven and the one I feel least competent in.

The topic I chose was workforce development and skills formation, and a reading about South Korea’s industrialization undergirded our discussion. As far as what went well…

The class was engaged throughout class. In part, perhaps there was a sympathy for me for being the first discussion leader. The introduction and brainstorming went well when we talked about different types of workforce intermediaries and their goals.

What didn’t work well is I sent myself the wrong version of my presentation–sophomoric. So 20 minutes into discussion, our professor and class discussed among themselves, while I loaded my current presentation. Also, I overprepared. Too much material. Our richest conversations only began to happen at the end. There is so much more I wanted to unpack with class. And my biggest omission–I didn’t talk about my experience in South Korea. Why not? I could have added so much to the conversation with context about business culture and education in Korea. I feel at a loss for not sharing this context with my classmates, only one of whom knows I worked in Korea, but nonetheless, I missed an opportunity to share myself with others. For that, I am sorry and I will use this as a learning opportunity to share myself with others.

Master list of skills and jobs, take 2

22 09 2014

a living laundry list for resume iterations, linkedin and so on. time to get serious about job deliberation. 

UNC ICMA Student Chapter
Chapel Hill, NC
August 2013–present

  • Created idea and plan for student video competition to support ICMA’s Life, Well Run campaign
  • Learned iMovie software to produce video about Hillsborough, NC Riverwalk area

Corporate English Instructor
Seoul, Republic of Korea
November 2011–present

LG Electronics
Business English Instructor
Suwon City

  • Meetings—created material for leading English meetings. Drew on corporate work experience to teach students expressions, grammar and meetings practices.
  • Business Writing—assessed students’ business writing needs and focused on teaching email writing, making complaints, requests and scheduling meetings. Taught expressions and difference between American and British English.
  • Presentations—taught students how to deliver effective presentations in English, including creating interesting openings, organized content and effective closings
  • Case Studies/Debate—guided students through controversial conversation topics
  • Public Speaking—taught how to create impromptu and prepared speeches
  • Overall, taught basic, intermediate and upper-intermediate level students; created conversation activities, grammar lessons and games related to learning objectives to keep students engaged for 70- to 90-minute sessions

Business English Tutor
Seoul City

  • 1:1 Business English tutor for employees within Toyota
  • Created and taught weekly lessons for students based on their English and business needs

Dong Suh Shik Poom
Seoul City
Substitute English Instructor

  • Assumed responsibility for group business English class, after English instructor departed
  • Created three lesson plans weekly for 6-8 company executives
  • Focused on conversation activities, while integrating listening and reading comprehension

Language Clinic
Seoul City
Created and taught multiple English grammar, writing, and conversation lessons to 5th grader

Executive Director
Futures for Kids (F4K), Raleigh, North Carolina
APR 2003–NOV 2011

F4K is a state-wide nonprofit that links students’ career goals with communities’ workforce development needs    

  • Shepherded successful ED search and transition process, articulating job description and expectations, setting and meeting deadlines, and engaging board members over a 5-month period
  • Reached 125,000 students statewide by raising $1.3M in funding ($500K corporate + $800K legislative) for program
  • Raised $500K+ in corporate funding by cultivating relationships with business leaders state-wide
  • Assumed leadership of start-up organization, negotiating down $700,000 in debt and securing $500,000+ in corporate funding to sustain the program in its first year
  • Scaled program nationally by forging strategic relationship with industry-leading software vendor
  • Legitimized program for stakeholders by securing funding and endorsements from state agencies and the General Assembly
  • Engaged stakeholders by meeting quarterly with business and education advisory groups
  • Forged partnerships with chambers of commerce, county governments and civic organizations
  • Acquired endorsements from statewide business and education organizations
  • Drafted talking points and letters of support for government officials and business leaders
  • Improved program by conducting usability sessions with users, writing usability reports and prioritizing improvements with development team
  • Supervised seamless executive transition over 6-month period
  • NC State Board of Education endorsed in 2003*
  • NC Chamber of Commerce endorsed in 2004*
  • NC Technology Association names F4K its Technology Nonprofit Company of the Year in 2005*
  • Duke University Child & Family Policy Institute completes favorable study in 2006* 

Marketing & Communications Consultant
Family Health International, Durham, North Carolina
NOV 2002–MAR2003
FHI is a global nonprofit working to prevent HIV/AIDS and expand access to health services

  • Strengthened corporate brand with 70+ international field offices by developing internal newsletter
  • Produced FHI conference booth to be used at 20 annual international conferences
  • Initiated internal events, including a staff photo competition, to boost employee morale
  • Developed internal newsletter to foster communication between 70+ international field offices


Marketing Communications Strategist / Event Planner
IBM, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
APR 1999–JUN 2002

  • Acquired internal support and awareness from senior level executives by documenting client successes through 50 case studies, 100 client profiles and electronic newsletter
  • Supervised $300,000 marketing materials budget with communications agency
  • Increased traffic by 100% to IBM.com site by writing customized content
  • Fostered collaboration between 8 software product groups (through conference calls and web content), which led to comprehensive trade show strategy and new business opportunities
  • Generated new business leads in key markets by managing $300,000 marketing materials budget and planning software receptions in multiple cities includingNew YorkandSan Francisco
  • Negotiated contracts with multiple vendors to secure best price and quality for goods
  • Acted as company representative showcasing IBM products at industry events
  • Conducted post-event analysis to determine content value and overall event success

On-Air Radio Host / News & Public Affairs Director
WTRG Oldies 100.7 FM, WRSN Sunny 93.9 FM, Raleigh, North Carolina
JAN 1998–APR 1999

  • Reached 1,000,000+ listeners daily by hosting radio broadcast and developing on-air content
  • Wrote and delivered hourly news reports under deadline
  • Co-hosted daily program and interacted with listeners from 6-county audience
  • Conceived of new talk show features that boosted market share by 25%
  • Strengthened product awareness through public speaking engagements
  • Increased market share by 25% by hosting live monthly promotional events with 200+ clients

Volunteer, Marketing / Communications + Volunteer Coordination
DOUGHMAN, Durham, North Carolina

Volunteer Teacher, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)
Durham Literacy Center, Durham, North Carolina
March 2010–December 2010
Durham Literacy Center is a community organization that empowers Durham residents who want to enrich their lives by improving their literacy skills.

  • Created weekly lesson plans for adult English language learners
  • Incorporated lessons, activities and games for adult students with different learning styles and at different English proficiency levels
  • Collaborated with co-teacher and Curriculum Director to gauge effectiveness of lessons

Sogang University
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Korean language, levels 1-2

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Basics of Economic Development, continuing education, August 2012
Technology and Communication graduate certificate, December 2011. Courses: Writing for Digital Media, Web site usability, Web and database research

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1996

* recognitions