I had flown to China before, but that was always with a return ticket. When I moved to China, my ticket was one-way. Back in the day, smoking was allowed on the flights. I was on a Chinese based airline and I began to understand some of the changes I was in for when the flight attendants commandeered the last three rows of the middle section and build a blanket fort.
They took turns going into it for smoking and rest breaks. You can picture the waves of smoke that escaped when someone went in or out.
Do you remember the feeling as you disembarked from the plane? Though late at night and exhausted, the muggy August air smelled . . . like not my home country. I really had finally arrived. To this day, if I arrive at an airport late at night and it’s muggy and the wind blows just right, a small wave of exhilaration washes over me.
Ah, the first year on the field.
But before we talk about your first year, let’s all look back with fondness when I made a foolish declaration and discovered I am a “time optimist.” Remember that last December I announced that I would write Getting Started: Making the Most of Your First Year in Cross-Cultural Service in one month?
I blame you, dear ALOS reader. And Velvet Ashes and others who participated in a survey in which I asked about your first year. By “blame,” I mean thank!
Thanks to you, Getting Started is so much richer because you shared your story. (And may see yourself anonymously in print.)
Getting Started was worth the wait, wouldn’t you say?
Why? Because as Daniel Pink said in When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing:
“These are the three principles of successful beginnings: Start right. Start again. Start together.”
We often can’t start right without help from others. Getting Started will help cross-cultural workers start right because so many shared their story. People in their first year will see themselves.
Getting Started can be a reference book for the first year and help people to start again. Though life is like a race, unlike a race, life comes when several starting points. When you are in your first year or term, Thank God you can start again.
Reading Getting Started with others who are on a team, in an organization, or in an online community like this (or Velvet Ashes or Global Trellis) will help people to start together.
Firsts are significant and beginnings hold sway. That is why even though I was embarrassed that this project took longer than I planned and during the spring I was sorry that I dragged you into the process with me, those principles helped me too to stay focused on book that will help so many.
More than any other book, Getting Started embodied starting together. Thank you for taking the survey and sharing your experiences. Because of you, thousands more will have a chance to make the most out of their first year on the field.