Saturday, November 21, 2009

rhodes interview

I finished up the Rhodes interview process this afternoon, and didn't get the scholarship. The interview process went okay. The other candidates were, as promised, interesting and engaging folks, and the tenor of the time with the selection committee was less intense than I had expected. The committee went out of their way to communicate that they wanted us to feel comfortable and relaxed and that the interviews themselves wouldn't be aggressive or combative. Friday evening was the "get to know you coffee", which went fairly well, and after which we drew times for our interviews the next day. The interviews themselves were only 20 minutes long. The questions I was asked were all insightful and fair, but it took me some time to be comfortable enough to answer well. They asked me about a range of subjects including the interaction between Christianity and feminism, the cause of the global financial crisis, my career aspirations, how growing up in Kenya impacted how I saw development and what I hoped to do, whose work I would like to model my own after, and what I thought of the relationship between organic standards and agribusiness, and what I thought of the Cambodian government's approach to rural development (promoting large-scale agriculture). There were also several questions about authors I had either not heard of or had heard of and knew the broad outlines of but hadn't read. At no time in the process did I feel like my having graduated from Wheaton or being a Christian was a liability, and the district secretary went out of his way to express how glad he was to see my application and how he hoped to see more from Wheaton.

I left the interview knowing that I hadn't nailed it and wouldn't be getting the scholarship. The group of candidates (11 of us) spent another few hours together before they did two brief call-back interviews with two of the other candidates and then announced their decision (one of the candidates who had been called back and another who hadn't).

While I'm disappointed (more with not feeling like I presented myself as well as I could than with the outcome), the process has been very valuable and I'm so glad I applied (especially considering my initial ambivalence about it). As I said in a text message I sent out to a number of friends afterwards, I've felt overwhelmed several times particularly in the last month by the amount of love and support I've received from my communities in the Chicago area, southern California, and around the world.


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