80. Prague

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One of my favorite parts of the Business School Experience (Georgetown MSB 2009) was what is referred to as the “International Integrative.” During our 2nd year we were given a consulting project for a company in another country.  At the end of the semester we were to go to that country to deliver the project in the form of a presentation and a Powerpoint deck.  I chose to go to Prague and the group I was placed in worked very well together and laughed a lot, too.  We were tasked with figuring out how to market a diabetes drug for a large pharmaceutical company.  Thankfully, one of the elders at the chapel is an endocrinologist, so he was able to explain things to me for the benefit of the group.

We spent the entire semester plugging away and when the time came to fly to Europe we excitedly jabbered with each other at Dulles and with several classmates who were waiting for a flight to S. Africa that was boarding down the hall.  Once we arrived we had lots of cultural and business experiences planned for us and we enjoyed the “grown up” field trips.  Our company had also lined up a series of visits to medical facilities for us so we could learn more about diabetes in that part of the world.  The sales reps who shuttled us back and forth were very kind and good naturedly interpreted for us when we needed help.  We ended up giving our presentation early, which was nerve-wracking but we didn’t have too much time to think about it – we just had to grab our laptops, get in the cab, and go.  It turns out that pitching early was fabulous – while our classmates continued to slave away over their slides our group was free to enjoy the city.  And we did.

I went to Prague after coming home from Intel Summer Camp and I had already decided to accept the job offer and relocate to OR.  My roommate for the Integrative was L, who was expecting her 2nd child at that point.  When she had inquired about the feasibility of her participating in the Integrative she had been informed that a student also in her Xth month of pregnancy had done the project (including the international travel part) the year before, so it was doable.  On our first night in the hotel I thought, “This is what living in OR will be like, except L won’t be 3 feet away.”

L worked super hard on her project, although it seemed to me that hustling through the airport during our connection in Paris had been enough effort on her part to have earned an “A.”   Each group of students in every country had a supervisor, and ours was Prof. L.  She was a great help to us on our project and when we actually went to Prague we were glad to be with her since she’s an experienced traveller and the city is well known to her.  In addition to her supervisory skills, we were also fortunate that her maternal instincts are strong, and she kept a close eye on L, making sure that she was fulfilling her duties as a student and expectant mother well.

One day L and I decided to bail out early from a group activity of some kind since it involved a lot of walking, or something.  Prof. L accompanied us back to the hotel to make sure we made it there okay.  We took a nice stroll through one of the main streets, looking in some shop windows when our conversation revealed the fact that L and I had been following Prof. L, but Prof. L had been following us!!  We laughed and laughed.  Prof. L had thought we wished to do some window-shopping (there were nice stores there) and was just going with the flow.  After that we went straight back to the hotel for some rest.  We had time for shopping later.

That was such a funny moment – L and I had no idea where we were but we were safe since Prof. L was with us – she was just letting us exercise our discretion.  I feel like those few moments of meandering are representative of so much of my life, except I really have had a destination in mind.  For a long time that destination was Africa.  When I decided to take the job at Intel I asked myself, “How could God ever send me to Africa if I won’t even go to Oregon?”

So I went to Oregon as a way of practicing being away from home and saying “yes” to God.  Pretty soon I went to Africa, too – it was a short trip, but I loved it so much I wanted to move there.  I moved home instead.  I’ve covered a lot of geographical ground in the past few years.  Some of it was a surprise to me, but the whole time I’ve had a Guide to make sure I got home safe.