A few weeks ago, I received exciting news- my rated slot for the Air Force had been approved, and as only a Junior at College, I knew my job once I would be commissioned into the Air Force; Air Battle Manager. The description (given here by the Air Force official website- they say it better than I do-) is as follows;
"During lightning-fast air combat, every decision makes an impact. And the officers making all of those decisions — right down to choosing the right aircraft for the mission — are the Air Battle Managers (ABM). They use strategy, experience and an intimate knowledge of all aircraft, weapons and surveillance to ensure success. By controlling the battle space and establishing "big picture" situational awareness, ABMs plan and execute the entire theater air operation. Their expertise is also often called upon in an advisory role by other allied military forces."
While I’m wonderfully excited for this, and feel a certain peace of mind that I at least know my job, I have to be completely honest that it disheartens me a little that my new job won’t have much to do with Chinese, my main love in the field of education. That being said, I’m determined to keep up my language ability post-graduation and do my very best as a new ABM.
But looking a little closer into the future, specifically for when I –am- in China, I’ve started to go a little deeper with my thinking. Namely; what can I get out of my study abroad experience other than –things-? I’ve bought souvenirs (though trust me, I’m sure to buy plenty more), and have visited the tourist-y places, but I can’t shake the feeling that there’s so much –more- to Study Abroad then I’ve been getting. I was sitting with a friend the other day, elbows-deep in an essay, all the while chatting idly with him about my up-and-coming adventure. My friend, Will, already having been for his semester abroad, smiled coyly and asked, “So… what kind of photography projects are you going to do while you’re there?” I stopped, blinking, my fingers coming to a stop atop the keyboard. “Photography project..” I mused aloud. I hadn’t even thought of such a thing.
But it was a fantastic suggestion…. Why not do a little soul-searching while I was there? Some independent research, or simply a personal expression project? Excited, I stopped with the essay (bad idea… I had to resume it that night!) and immediately started brainstorming about all the things I could do. It occurred to me suddenly that while I’d be in Kunming, and even Shanghai… my only job would be to study. No uniforms, no formations, no Corps. and Club and Air Force projects to attend to… my schedule would be comparatively free.
It’s a revelation I’ve been thinking about it all week. Even if being an ABM has nothing to do with Mandarin, I’m excited to do it. And during my semester abroad... well, my 6 months abroad, I’m going to go on a mission to find myself. Answer some of life’s existential questions. And it starts with the lessons of perseverance and self that I learned here on the hill.
Speaking of which... I have some inspections to go run. Happy Friday, everyone!
Rikki Feightner, Band Co. ‘15