The Pillars of Happiness Part 1: Forge On

Forge On

The universe doesn’t do all the work for you.  You have to meet it halfway.  Driven by your bliss and empowered by a commitment to SAY YES to new experiences, it is essential to pursue your goals with resolve, even in the face of setbacks.

In 2012, after learning I had missed the mark by a fraction of a point at the final exam in the arduous process of becoming a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, I decided to forge on, determined to become better prepared for a career in diplomacy.  Selling my house and car, leaving my private sector job, and finding a new home for my dog, I left the United States to undertake intensive Hindi training in rural India and to pursue graduate studies in International Relations in Budapest, Hungary. After finishing my degree, I put my new skills to use, tackling issues related to cultural heritage preservation and intercultural dialogue at UNESCO New Delhi and coordinating cultural and educational exchange programs at U.S. Embassy Tbilisi.

Despite these efforts to expand my skill set, I once again fell short in the Foreign Service Exam process in 2013.  Although it would be easy to resort to despondency in a situation like this, I didn’t see my endeavors as fruitless, but as an incredible journey…indeed, a blessing. Because in my determined pursuit of of my bliss, I have enjoyed the adventures I’ve had.  And my resolve to achieve my goals has only strengthened.

The road ahead for each of us will be equally exciting, but even if the destination never comes, it’s important to remember that life is now!  And as we continue to forge on, in pursuit of our bliss and saying yes along the way, our experiences will shape and inspire us.  Indeed, embracing the journey is what happiness is made of.

Alexander's interest in international education began in Italy fifteen years ago. While studying classical piano at the Conservatorio Frescobaldi di Musica, he taught English at a bilingual school and worked as a freelance translator‰ÛÓwhich resulted in the translation of a biography. Several years later, supported by an NSA Scholarship and a Fulbright Award, he studied Russian and musicology in St. Petersburg, Russia. Alexander also worked as a bilingual teacher at the American School of Paris, where he developed his own curriculum. After a five-year stint as an importer of French art and antiques, Alexander decided to fully commit to a career in cultural diplomacy. He left the United States in 2012 for an intensive Hindi course in Varanasi, India, followed by a graduate program in International Relations at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He then returned to India for a position at UNESCO New Delhi, helping develop Punjab's Cultural Heritage Policy in order to empower the Punjabi community on both sides of the border to collaborate in safeguarding their common cultural heritage.

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