IRB-ing in the post-peace corps world

Since coming back to the States, I have been overwhelmed by the exciting change of transition. I’ve reunited with friends and family, spent a month reveling in the green gorgeous Virginia summertime, and, most recently, made a cross-country move to the great metropolis known as the Bay Area.

This most recent life path twist, while premeditated, was not for any particular reason besides the fact that I felt the call of the west. “A few friends (and my beau) live there, I’ve always liked the area, there’s a lot going on in my field, I’ll make it work,” were the answers I routinely gave out to the overwhelming wave of questions I encountered themed “why California?”

While the transition is fresh and I’m still wondering if this was the right move for me, I do know that I’ve found myself thinking back to the good ole days of Peace Corps Pre-Service Training sessions in Elbasan more frequently than usual recently – mainly those (at the time, doze-worthy) sessions about IRB-ing, or intentional relationship building.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but IRB-ing is just a sneaky fancy-speak term for networking. In the Peace Corps, you have to get to know your community to be successful, and we were encouraged, as volunteers, to reach out and intentionally approach people we did not know in order to make connections and establish our cache of community contacts. Through living and working in Lezhe, I had the “I don’t know you, so I won’t talk to you” beaten out of me, and it’s served me well during the trial of recreating my professional network in yet another “foreign” community. Though people are not as interested in me just because I am American anymore, I’m meeting so many creative, interesting people, and look forward to continuing to create a community for myself here. It’s not home yet, but I’m getting there.

Many thanks to all the friends and family who have helped me start out here by introducing me to people and showing me where and how to start off. I look forward to updating you as things roll along!

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