Hi, I’m Ji.
I know, it’s too short. I have to repeat it almost every time I introduce myself, then go through the various possible pronunciations, so I often say it’s a letter. G. Like Gmail.
I was part of ‘here we are poland’ team until my recent move back home (for now, USA).
Being an expat/repat since I can remember, home is where your kid goes to school, but being “home” without so many consonants in a row is easier on the jaw.
We lived four years in Poland, during which I’ve worked at the American Embassy, graduated from a two-year ceramic course, endured dark winters, and, most importantly, learned to ski and how to pronounce pietruszka and zegarmistrz.
I’ve lived on four continents, and faced unique challenges – be it the language barrier, lack of milk, safety, paved roads, or Graham crackers. But the hardship is always relative, and by far insignificant compared to the *unimaginable lessons, the joy of small victories, and the lifelong friendships I had the privilege to make mine, chapters of my colorful tale. Life is too short of a book, really.
Speaking of life, what am I doing with my life?
Sometimes it felt like my life was on pause while my spouse’s career advanced. And it could have been true if I hadn’t pursued other paths, not linear at all, and far from my former profession (architect).
Being part of ‘here we are’ and other groups proved crucial to my personal and professional development during those years. Through shared experiences, our stories become more coherent, viewed from different perspectives, and all the sudden we don’t feel so isolated, discriminated, misunderstood.
Despite believing that -aside few exceptions in the technical field- the concept of “Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none” is obsolete, I was very apprehensive about trying to re-enter the job market so late in life (with a resume that resembled a very eclectic collage of random quilts).
But the world is changing.
The global mindset and the can-do attitude are valuable assets when tackling, well, almost anything.
With that adaptability, openness, and gratitude (yes, I feel lucky, see above*), I always “kept myself busy”, and so I also did my -substantial- share of volunteer work.
It is a great way to give back and contribute, while keeping your skills up-to-date and meeting generous, kind people. I’ve met many “professional volunteers”, who were far busier and worked much harder than some actually employed people.
Some may find volunteering unappealing for monetary reasons – after all, you’re working for free. But the rewards of putting your skills to a good cause not only gets you karma credits, but can enhance your portfolio!
To all the involuntary volunteers out there, I want to tell you that, because of the experience I acquired while volunteering, I just got a job I’m really excited about. And I have a window!
So here I am, back home as a repat, with a great job, but longing to stay connected to this dear community of expats. You are my tribe. You understand the frustration when someone thinks less of you because of your non-traditional curriculum vitae.
Don’t let yourself down, seize the opportunities to always learn and connect, and hopefully I can help you in a small logistical way to get your voice heard.
‘here we are’ is a great channel enabling expats from all walks of life to recognize and validate your journey in this invaluable way of life – the amazing life of expats/repats!
With warm regards,