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Lessons from the Deep End: From a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sichuan, China to a Tech Writer in Silicon Valley and Back Again

Nothing inspires me more than to read stories of people's adventures, whether it be in far-flung, remote areas or within the confines of the urban realm. But within these singular pieces of people's lives strewn together, we can find the resolve within ourselves to go and venture out ourselves.

This is the story of Andrew A. Schafer who spent two years in Sichuan, a southwestern province in China, to teach English in university, his struggles with Mandarin and getting around in a culture completely unfamiliar to him. 

He recounts how he worked his way toward developing relationships, speaking the language, and learning from the people and students he worked with as much as he taught them about his own culture and language.

From there, he went back home to the US and he talks about the adjustment phase of reintegrating yourself into a society where not too long ago you had been a part of but after being away only for two years seems somewhat a bit unfamiliar. And he moved on from one deep end to another.

As a philosophy and English teacher, he tried looking for jobs that might sound interesting. After much searching, he landed on a tech job in one of the rising companies in Silicon Valley. Another set of learning opportunities and hard work lay before him.

The experiences he had in China worked to his advantage. Though he had no clue about tech culture, he applied the same principles he used in China to learn the ways of tech. The more he immersed himself, the better his understanding of tech became. And down the rabbit hole he went, finally emerging fluent in the ways of tech.

In all that, he tells us what he learned throughout those years and how he came out from them all the wiser and more well-versed in the environments he delved into. His is a fascinating story of continuous learning and development, something of which I feel deeply inspired.

(Image credit: Andrew A. Schafer/Cloudflare)


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