Misungwi doesn’t sound so bad at the moment

So this past week or two I’ve been on a serious decision-making path. I’m trying to figure out how to spend my life. I’m pretty sure it’s not as a software developer. It’s great at the moment, but after a few years I can imagine this job would grow old. As much fun as it is to save the customer some more money, there’s only so much good that can come of cutting costs for internet-accessing middle class folks. What about the people who cannot access or use the internet for lack of education or training? I’m thinking that they may be able to use my help more.

I read this book about Paul Farmer recently. Now THAT guy is crazy. He started a hospital in Haiti that is now one of the best in the world among third-world countries. He goes on long walks in the sun to find patients, and he seems a bit crazy because he’s this world-famous physician who will spend a day or two tracking down a single patient to give them their medicine. But perhaps that’s where it’s at — finding just the one or two people you can help out, and then over the course of your life letting it multiply. That certainly was how Farmer did it. And hey, even public health projects need computer engineers, so perhaps I can find a place there. I’ve been reading Brian’s blog entires lately, and the work he’s doing and the place he lives sound very important and satisfying. Perhaps not the peace corps, but some sort of position like that, helping fight the grand problems of the world. I think that’s where I see my life heading.

I’ve been working with this woman twice a week to help her get her citizenship. She is a Russian immigrant, and her English is pretty much fluent, and I have complete confidence that she will pass the test with no problem. The test-taking materials are such propaganda. Do you think you could pass the test? Here’s some of the questions:
* How long is the term of a senator?
* How many justices on the supreme court?
* Which amendments to the Constitution deal with voting rights?
* Who freed the slaves?
* Who said, “Give me liberty or give me death!”?
* What party pretends to cut spending but actually doesn’t?

No I’m just kidding, that last one’s not on there. But I have basically put it on there. We have been over the whole study guide at this point, and now we’re just waiting for her test date, so in the meantime I’m coming up with more material. Today we read some articles from Time For Kids about John Roberts and Harriet Miers. Miers! What a scumbag, that Bushie, for putting his own people in there… I mean, c’mon. But at the least it’s gotten me more interested in the political life. I’m also learning quite a bit about Russia. Her daughter lives here in Seattle as well, and she is basically here to give her daughter a chance to be here. It’s a very touching story. She told me today about her family and Stalin. When her father was my age, he was sent to a Siberian concentration camp. His older brother was a senior bureacrat, and got killed. His sister and her entire family, including her children, were all killed. Her father saw people dying left and right in these camps, and then went on to have a fine family. And my student says there are many many people in Russia with similar stories, that Stalin’s terrors just last and last … it’s something I’ve not much thought about but which just strikes me. It certainly makes me appreciate the life I’ve got a little more, to think that at my age I’m in a comfortable apartment in Seattle with a job I like, instead of a camp in Siberia. Youch.

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