So much has changed in this past month. The major change being, well, I left the farm. I’m not going to get into all the details, but the best way to describe it is that after I “taste tested” this way of life and while I was enjoying learning so much about agriculture and farming, I wasn’t truly happy there. Many factors played into this decision, and little things were just building up. I know this is super vague, but I decided for my own well-being that it would not be a good idea for me to stay on the farm for three more months. This was a really hard decision to make, partly because I was going to miss the farm and partly because there was so much I could have learned, but mostly because I felt like I was letting myself down. I had set so many expectations for this summer, and I hated this feeling that I was “giving up” or taking the easy way out.
Looking back on it now, I know I made the right decision. Things are beginning to fall into place like perfect puzzle pieces. The first piece being that, luckily for me, my sister and her fiancée had just moved to Connecticut, literally just the weekend before I left the farm, and they were able to pick me up and take me in while I figured out how I was going to move forward with my summer.
I went from a life of hard manual labor in rural Connecticut – usually not seeing more than the same four people during the weekdays, going to sleep to cows mooing, and waking up to a rooster crowing – to life in a suburban apartment complex with air conditioning in a populated city. It was a mild form of culture shock. In the ensuing three weeks, I watched a lot of Netflix, slept almost 10 hours each night, and applied to 16 jobs. It was a much-needed time of rest that I didn’t get after finals ended, since I had left straight for the farm. It was nice to just do nothing for the first time in a long time.
A couple of opportunities came from that pile of job applications. One of them being Project Sunshine, a non-profit located in NYC that is a volunteer-based organization that provides emotional and social support for children in hospitals. They have several chapters throughout the US, and have international programs in China, Kenya, Israel, and Canada. I went through the interview process and was offered the International Programs Intern position, and I had my first day last Monday! I’m going to be doing research for their China program, which involves the pediatric healthcare landscape in China, the health disparities seen in migrant children whose parents moved from rural to urban China, culturally appropriate programs that can be implemented, and just really refining and overall just redeveloping their China program into one that is more effective at impacting the children’s lives. It’s one of the first times I’ve been working on something with real-world implications. The research and planning I’m doing makes it feel like I’m just doing another assignment for class, but the final result of my work isn’t going to be a letter grade this time, it’s actually going to be contributing to how this organization runs its China program and affecting the lives of children halfway around the world.
This past month has been a wild ride after leaving the farm, moving in with my sister, and hustling to find a job an entire month into the summer. But the timing of everything just worked out so perfectly, I can’t even believe how lucky I am. The day I started looking at job postings in NYC was the same day that Project Sunshine posted this internship position; if I had left the farm just a week later I would have missed this opportunity. It feels like my life has turned upside down. I went from working on a farm in rural Connecticut to working in an office building in New York City. Doing international program development in pediatric healthcare for a really cool non-profit organization is the last thing I expected to be doing this summer, but here I am, just along for the ride.