Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day!

Hi Jack - 

I work in the Communications office here at headquarters in DC. We’re working on a Father’s Day story and thought of you and your father, since in the story that was recently published by UC, it mentioned that you both served in Peace Corps. Can you tell me a little more about how your father influenced your decision to join, and what is like to follow in his footsteps as a PCV? Have you found it beneficial to have someone that understands the experience? Has he/is he planning to visit?

Feel free to answer any or all of these questions, and add anything else you think might be interesting.



Hi Mary!

Thanks for the email, great hearing from you. No worries on the late notice, I just happened to come in this weekend to run the regional VAC meeting --- so your timing was good. Without trying to set the tone on a somber note, my Dad passed away from complications with leukemia in March 2008. This was at a time between which I had given up my career as a baseball player to come home and help with the family while also looking to move on to a career in finance and international business --- keep in mind that I was not alone in putting my career on hold, as everyone in the family made a similar choice. Believe it or not, I distinctly remember how quickly he rebuffed my ideas of doing something like the Peace Corps or Teach For America when we had such conversations in the hospital. He had seen how well my brother was doing with Ernst & Young (E&Y) and how it allowed him to get comfortable, find a wife, settle down, etc. and he wanted to see me plot a similar trajectory in my early years after school and baseball. After assessing the options, I ended up taking an offer from E&Y where after they sent me to grad school on their dime and gave me a job with a 4-year commitment. It was the day that I passed the GMAT and gained entrance to Notre Dame (and thus, earned the position at E&Y) that he passed away. He was in and out of consciousness at that point, but my family said he was very proud and happy that was to become my near future.

GLN, Liberia 1967-69 
Despite being one of the most well-read and eloquent writers I will probably ever know personally - he was a journalist and worked in public relations his entire career - in addition to having a tremendously diverse range of experiences that surprised many of our friends upon his passing, he was very humble and quiet about what he was able to do in 63 years. And it was through that time we spent together as a family in the hospital that allowed us to learn about how influential his experience as a PCV in Liberia was on his life. He certainly told stories about living in a mud-walled house with a tin roof when we were growing up, but I could never before recall him talking about the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy to his classes in Liberia, and how emotional of a time that was for him. Three years, one CPA earned, and countless cubicle hours later, I started thinking about his story and how I would remember such world events. Where would I be and what would I be doing when some of the most historic and transformational world events occurred in my lifetime? When I'm in my 60's and reflect on the past, was I going to look back on my earlier years and be able to recall the things I was doing at any given point in my life? In knowing that although the previous few years as a CPA were challenging and provided me with an opportunity to meet and work with some of the most talented and dedicated people in the field of accounting, I was not fully convinced that I would be satisfied looking back on these years without taking the opportunity to do something like the Peace Corps. 

After arriving in Cameroon a little more than one year ago, I have thought on several occasions that although my Dad may have not immediately warmed to the idea of leaving my job as a CPA for the Peace Corps, he would have likely been studying French soon after I received my invitation while preparing to be the first one in the family to get on the plane to make a visit. Never one to avoid a good conversation, he would have greatly enjoyed having the opportunity to discuss both the similarities and differences between his service and mine. I can just imagine him teasing me about how spoiled I am to have regular running water and electricity at my house in Guider, as compared to the few amenities he was dealt in Shelloe. And it would have certainly been a great conversation talking about the similarities I have found in teaching while helping out the occasional high school English class. 

Talk to you soon and have a great weekend! 



No comments:

Post a Comment