16 February 2010

A Peek into My Passport

I don't believe I've mentioned this previously, but I have joined a local chapter of Toastmasters International. I figure that 1. I'll improve my public speaking skills, which are already quite good 2. I can meet new and different people 3. I get out of the house instead of always constantly thinking about my job search.

I gave my first speech today. I was one of two speakers, and for what it's worth, I was voted as having the better presentation. Also, my evaluator thought it was an excellent and unique speech. Here's my "ice breaker" speech:

A Peek into My Passport
Like my passport, many labels have been applied to me. Some stamps have seared themselves into my core and others fade quickly or are over-written with something more potent. Many of the impressions of the true me are hidden by the eagle that dons the cover of my American passport. But, don’t judge a passport by its beat-up, worn, withered, crinkled blue jacket. There’s more to me than just the bald eagle that first appears.

First and foremost, I am a 5th generation Montanan and the youngest of 5 Faught kids. The label “baby” is often applied to my name when my family introduces me. This mark cannot be expunged from my permanent record.

I grew up in Missoula, went to Big Sky High School, and managed to graduate from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Japanese. I owned a house, 3 cars, and a myriad of other stuff that somehow defines happiness or success. I found the marks of so-called success by society given to me to be absurd. Why should I allow others to brand me? But in the end, I traded it all, including my husband, for an adventure of a lifetime.

The first stamp onto my fresh passport was on a holiday to Japan. The love I felt for Osaka, Japan’s 2nd largest city, was deep and was not to be erased from the blue pages of my government issued document. All those years of studying an intensely difficult language finally seemed to be paying off. That was 2002.

Fast forward to 2004, I applied for a teaching position in Japan with the blessing and consent of my husband. Unsurprisingly to me and surprisingly to him, I got the gig. I was awarded with a 3-year visa that was inserted onto a blue page. That sticker still adheres to me everyday. But, my husband did not. For whatever reason, he choose to remain behind thus ending our 5 year marriage.

Don’t worry, I’m happily divorced. It doesn’t appear anywhere near the bird on my passport rendering it almost invisible to most people even upon inspection. But, the brand is hidden amongst all of the other stamps as to not be the first thing that strikes people when they meet me.

There are other concealed signs of who I am within my frayed document. The French student visa is on a page further back, on a page that the U.S. embassy added to my almost full booklet in Osaka. I needed more pages to take a ferry from Osaka to Shanghai, then to board trains spanning from Shanghai to Beijing to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia to Ulan Baatar, Mongolia and eventually to Moscow, Russia before flying to Nice, France. Many pages were inspected and stamped at various points before I was able to begin graduate school.

After thousands of miles of railroad tracks, 10 months in France, a couple stamps from Morocco and South Africa from class trips, a long flight from Nice to Dublin to JFK to LAX, a good mark on my final project, and I can finally add the latest brand to my name, an MBA.

Some people may have other labels for me currently that are not embossed permanently, such as unemployed, escapist, but the labels from my life experience are continually collecting in my passport. The plethora of impressions on my pages are not just from the 20+ countries I’ve been to, but each unique life experience. Each stamp, each visa gives a new zest to my life. As my pages become more and more filled, I find that most people may only see the embossed symbol of the U.S. when they meet me, but there’s a lot more to me inside the pages if you care to read.


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