Hello, Paul here. I wanted to share about how I’ve begun to get involved in a context here. I started a new job as a bookseller at the Stanford University bookstore about two weeks ago. It’s pretty cool as far as part-time jobs go. I’m currently working about 10-20 hours per week.
I get to greet customers and ask whether there is anything they are looking for. If they are looking for a section or a specific book, then I get to take them to the section or try to locate their book. It’s rewarding getting the challenge of finding the book they are looking for. One time, a young girl came to the store looking for some zombie survival book, and said that she could not find it anywhere she looked. She asked if I could find it, not expecting us to have it. When we were able to find it for her, it was really cool to see how thrilled she was that we found what she had been looking for. She said it made her day, and in a small way making her day made mine.
The amount of diversity in the bookstore blows my mind. It seems like a huge majority of customers are not from the area, and many are even not from the country. Visitors come to the school on official visits, but the school is also a tourist destination so many come just to see the school as well. A huge number of visitors seem to be international. The customer base reflects the high Asian population of our area, with the most common people being Mandarin speakers. But I have also met visitors from Germany, Barcelona, an Irish dad buying his kids a math book, and a couple of British couples looking for business books.
Intercultural studies may be hard to define and not “a career track”, but I get to interact with and bridge across cultures every time I work there. I was asked what I hoped to do by studying intercultural studies, and honestly answered that the variety is very unspecific. But I was able to share a story from my first day.
On that first day, my very first customer brought me a picture of a book he only knew the title of in Catalán. He explained that he was from Barcelona, and asked if I could search by author. When I found out he was from Spain, I slowly switched to using Spanish for the rest of our interaction. It took a few exchanges for him to catch on that I was speaking Spanish, but when he did his excitement that I was speaking Spanish was fun to see.
My favorite thing about the job is that I can commute on my bike.This was a goal that I had in trying to find a job here, since we only have one car. Another goal I had was to get involved on Stanford’s campus and begin to build relationships there.
I have begun to do so with coworkers and customers, and hope to begin to talk with students and professors from that starting point. For my term project by the time we leave, I hope to interview some professors about what Stanford means to them, and the effect of their experiences on them. My goal in this is to learn more about Stanford, but also to learn more about Anthropology as a discipline, specifically Linguistic Anthropology.
This is the type of field I hope to enter in future, and is a hope I have been developing during our time here. Long story short, recently Elizabeth and I are very intrigued by the potential to move to Illinois, specifically Urbana-Champaign. University of Illinois has a program in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology there that intrigues us. The program funds accepted students for five and a half years through a 20-hour-a-week teaching/research assistantship. The town is a little smaller than many graduate school cities, and there are three Churches of the Nazarene within a ten minute drive of the city.
There is even a coffee shop that serves roasts from my favorite coffee roaster, Quills!
We are excited about the possibility of moving somewhere for more than nine months, and having a potential option for where to go and what to do when we leave Palo Alto after our term here.
If you would like something to pray for us for, we would love if you prayed for us to engage with our time here and make the most of it. It is hard to believe that we have been here for over two months, and have about eight months left. We want to be faithful to the call we have received to be here, and to engage the people and groups here.
Beyond here, the next step in the process of pursuing a PhD program is to study for and take the GRE exam for entrance. I can deal with the words-based problems, but have a bigger struggle with the math problems. So, motivation to study and guidance for how to move forward in the application process, and discernment whether that is the best next step for us after here would be great things to pray for.
Thanks for walking with us in this journey. We so appreciate it, and love getting emails or mail from you. We try to send out postcards and occasional letters, so if you’d like to get one of those as well, please tell us.
Bye for now.