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Yellow Springs, Malaysia, and Brazil – On Getting Out of Your Own Way: Marshall Gravley-Novello ’16 at Savitha and Anthrotech

The journey to this moment, where I am sitting on a plane headed eventually to Malaysia, has been an interesting one for which I have some insights and lessons to be taken for the future. First, life is complicated so I have a co-op in several parts. I am working, part-time, with Savitha on a project of mosquito surveillance in Yellow Springs. Also, I intend to work with Dorothy Balser, a social worker at Catholic Social Services who is in charge of the refugee resettlement program in Dayton. Finally, I am leaving now on a two-week trip to Malaysia in order to do a unique project with Anthrotech. Up to this point, the thread that ties these employments together is an introspective job search and extraordinary community support.

I learn best outside my comfort zone. Still, I was effectively deflated to discover that my work with Savitha would not be full-time. However, it is said that the Way opens as long as we allow it to and recently I have lived up to this Quaker catechism. To do so, I had to understand the anxiety, confusion and frustration I was feeling enough to keep them from informing my actions. Further, when confronted with many options on how to proceed I called upon a more intuitive knowledge of the kind of work I should pursue always asking myself: What feels right? In yoga this is called Dharma. It translates roughly as both code of conduct and higher purpose and I relied heavily on this Dharmic way of action even when my mind was defeated by internal struggle and I was blessed with too many options to rationally choose from! From the struggle, I learned the value of not being too attached to an expected outcome, i.e. the mosquito surveillance project. It helped of course that I received so much help from the co-op office and the members of the community I contacted about work opportunities that the job search seemed at times to be taking care of itself.

Confirming the power of faith, the Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley (CSSMV) may be willing to accept my work in a project in my target field of medical anthropology. I assembled an open letter to the volunteer coordinator at CSS describing co-op and my aims. Very soon after that I heard back from CSS for an impromptu phone interview, which I was not prepared for, but did my best to earn some legitimacy and demonstrate my deep interest in their work. Now it appears I will get to experience the work of a medical anthropologist firsthand. The lesson here is beautiful. I feel empowered to know that I can reach out into our community and find work as rewarding as the experience gathered together as my co-op. In the future, this job-search process may never be as well-facilitated by my community as it has been, but when I doubt, I will remember the power of getting out of my own way and allowing the way to open.

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