Je Ne Regrette Rien

When I was on my high school swim team, my coach always said swim like you have no regrets. I’ve always been that kind of person who tries to live their life and make decisions without regret.

Sometimes I get a bad feeling when I tell people I got a music education degree, and then I joined the Peace Corps. They don’t say it outright but sometimes you get the inkling that they’re thinking… oh, you got your degree in something that won’t make you a lot of money and that your jobs are being cut nationwide and that you wasted your university education with an inapplicable skillset.

There were also the people who thought I was legitimately crazy for wanting to join the Peace Corps and accept an invitation to serve…friends, my now ex-boyfriend, and colleagues. 18 months later…and I’m still in BF

But I have no regrets. Those skills learned during my music education curriculum have helped me tremendously during my Peace Corps Service. Here are 10 examples.

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  2. Psychology and Educational Psychology – How kids learn
  3. Educational Policy Studies – How education systems work and don’t work
  4. Lesson Planning – I remember when people were so impressed with my lesson plans during training. I told them that I had to write hundreds, even thousands in college and submit them as assignments.
  5. Multitasking – Making the most of my internet time!
  6. Filling out paperwork – welcome to a bureaucracy…here’s the paperwork that goes with it
  7. Dealing with children – dealing with 5th graders with instruments is like dealing with rowdy CE1 students who don’t speak French
  8. Teaching kids how to read music – Teaching kids reading in a second language
  9. Musical Proficiency – Playing the Star Spangled Banner not once, but Twice in Country for an international audience, helping to maintain my mental health
  10. Arranging – Arranging the Star Spangled Banner for a swearing in ceremony at the ambassador’s house
  11. Teaching experience – all those 700+ hours of teaching, observing and video analysis
  12. The ability to perform well under pressure
  13. Coping strategies for disappointment — bad audition results, things not going well, working with a small locus of control

And that’s just a few of the skills…

I am so proud to see my friends and colleagues from my Music Ed program with teaching jobs. Part of me wants that stability, that certainty, that idea of living with internet and good food and electricity and running water. The fact that they are actively able to apply those skills in context every day and get paid better than PCVs makes me a little envious.

I have no regrets. I have had so many wonderful experiences here; I’ve met friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life, future bridesmaids, and excuses to take a road trip to visit them.

I don’t know if I’m going to an orchestra director when I get back to the US. I don’t know what is going to happen in the next 9 months…and that’s ok. Music will always be a part of my life. I’m glad I got my degree as a music education major. If I end up going into public health or international development I don’t see my degree as a loss. Besides, one of my biggest inspirations is my viola teacher back home. I only worked with her a couple of years, but she was a pathologist, and she played viola and cello. She subbed with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, and truly had a full, holistic work life. Ideally I want to have what she had, a good “day job,” the time to teach private lessons, and the ability to do gigs and sub work and get paid for that.

I didn’t get my degree to work…I got it because I am passionate about music.

Everything happens for a reason, nothing is a total waste…and I have no regrets.

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