Should I Move To China in Sept?

Yesterday I was offered a Boren Fellowship, in which the Federal government would pay for my to live in China and learn Mandarin in the language program of my choosing for one year. In exchange, after finishing Fletcher, I would promise to work for two years wherever I want in the government.

My original motivation for applying was that at age 24 I should aim for breadth instead of depth. While I am working in a rich new world where int'l development meets tech policy meets political science, expanding that narrative to include the China-Africa connection would be an added feather, and surely a great year of travel and exploration on someone else's dime.

On the flip side, while government service is certainly one good option of many after graduation, an a priori limitation of my options is difficult to accept.

I have to give my answer by Monday. A tough choice.



  • Josh, I did an NSEP scholarship (not the graduate fellowship) in Russia for a year in 2005-2006. I have a good friend who has worked in East Africa on development projects who took an NSEP for Chengdu, China, at the same time. My take is that it's an excellent opportunity and it'll also give you a good comparative view of the development challenges facing different societies. My friend who did his NSEP in China used the experience to analyze the different approaches to development being taken in East Africa and interior China, and how Western aid agencies could improve their operations.

    As for the service requirement, it really depends on what you want to do. I know some NSEPs who get a job in consulting out of undergrad or grad school and just pay back the scholarship in full. The service requirement has been expanded to a wider array of government agencies in recent years. There is always something to do, but whether it's exactly what you want to do is an open question.

    Good luck with your decision. I do some blogging over at the global buzz (; check it out if you have a minute.

    By Blogger Matt Stone, at 5:12 AM  

  • Christ of Nazareth. Tough choice? Cummon. Go to China! Appalling how late I am to this. The other posts hint at my being too late. :o(

    By Blogger The 27th Comrade, at 1:11 PM  

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