In the summer of 2006 I was wait-listed for a Critical Language Scholarship to Tunisia (top 20 of 1000, but not the top 15!) and declined a Fulbright to Morocco. I spent some time feeling sorry for myself until I decided I didn't need anyone to give me permission to continue my studies in Arabic.
I walked into the kitchen and said, "Mom, will you buy me a plane ticket for Morocco." "For when, Ann Marie?" she asked. "Tuesday." "Alright," she said. She was used to my antics by then. I took the money I was given from various generous relatives for graduating college and used it to pay my tuition at a fabulous little Arabic school (ALIF). And thus began my relationship with Morocco.
I like this story because it shows how sometimes we can get caught up in waiting on someone else to "knight" us as qualified to do something. I work a lot with my students to encourage them to declare their own interests and identity and to move forward, regardless of who approves. This story is one instance in my life where I exemplified this behavior and I'm proud of it.
Since that time I have had three Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships and a Boren Fellowship, which amounts to about six year of federally funded Arabic study. What's the take away? When I started taking myself seriously then someone else did.