Dear Mr. Rechtman,
Following your application and interview with the Selection Board, I am pleased to inform you that the European Commission's Directorate General for Interpretation has decided to offer you an EU Chinese Interpreter Training Scholarship...
No more speculatin' and posturin' here, folks; no more "gee, I really think I have a good shot" or "hey, we'll just have to wait and see." Nope, it's official now: I am the cool cat of Eurasia. I'm the dopest thing to drop since math class. I'm as fly as I wanna be, clever as a rhyme... I am dominating the catbird seat... you read that right; all that AND a bag of chips.
Indulge my bragging; I'm very very happy right now. Since I first saw the call for applications four months ago, this scholarship has all along been a very nifty abstract idea, a "wouldn't that be cool" whim I could play with in my head without becoming too attached to or taking too seriously. But it ain't abstract anymore! It's actually going to happen; not an interview, not a short-list... it's over. I won.
There is no proper way to express the mixed but not-contradicting feelings of gratitude for a great blessing and self-congratulations for a job well done. It's like "I'm so lucky" and "I'm the man" all at once. In any case, it feels great. Not only do I get the sense of satisfaction of having proved my Chinese skills to a board of experts and to myself, but also the reverberated happiness of making my family, friends, and loved ones very proud.
I feel very, very blessed.
Here's the SkollerBoat D-tales:
WHO: Me. And other lucky and/or gifted scholars.
WHAT: A post-graduate diploma course in conference interpretation at the University of International Business and Economics. Course covers both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation.
WHERE: The new and improved Beijing, which is being made cleaner and more beautiful daily by the sheer will of a glory-hungry Olympics-hosting authoritarian government (of the people)(for the people).
WHEN: September 2008 - June 2010
HOW MANY BONES, OR CLAMS, OR WHATEVER YOU CALL THEM: Twenty-five Thousand Euros for two years (or $19,000 USD a year, or 10,000 RMB a month). No matter how you slice my pie, fact is I'm eatin' real well in China for the next 700 days.
THE CATCH: Alarmingly minimal. If you get a Boren Scholarship or other US government grants to study, you wind up owing the feds several years of career service. The EU, however, is a more benevolent giver. After gifting me money, training, and a valuable and immensely marketable skill, they'll send me off scot-free and ask only that I give them "first call to my services, as a freelance interpreter, subject to normal recruitment deadlines and payment conditions."
The natural dream, of course, is that I can milk this into a long-term multi-continental and perpetually interesting freelance career; essentially, a series of awesome gigs. But the truth is I know very little about the interpreter's lifestyle; if there are any interpreters reading this, I would love to hear from you.
In any case, I'm walking on a cloud. I'm also very happy that I got the Beijing assignment, because I have several good friends in that city and believe I'll get Chernobyl and possibly even some of my Chinese friends in Dalian to move there with me.
In the meantime, I'm going to be in Dalian in May and June, working and taking little trips to explore Dongbei (equipped with my fly new ultra-tiny sleeping bag). In July and/or August I'll either take a bigger trip somewhere exciting or else go home for a couple weeks before coming back to Dalian with La Mama, to whom much credit for this achievement is due and for whom I'm buying a plane ticket to China as a show of deep love and appreciation.
Bottom Line: I'm happy and healthy and excited about the future. Things are going really well and I pray to those laughing, capricious gods above to keep it that way.
Much love and fist-pumping excitement to all of you,