Taylor Rose had just graduated with a degree in journalism from Arizona State University when she and her parents sat down and had a “what do you want to do next” talk.
“The thought of an office job was terrifying to me,” she recalls, “so when my dad suggested I research the Peace Corps, I quickly did … and submitted my application three days later. It was exactly what I was looking for.”
Rose left Sonoma in April 2011 to work as an education volunteer in East Java, Indonesia. She taught in every capacity in which the area needed help. She taught high school English in Madura, a little island just north of East Java; she taught English clubs and camps for youth and adults; she organized teacher training; and she launched a Cycle to School campaign to help area students get to school more easily. Along the way, she became proficient in Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia.
While some students might have romanticized the notion of the Peace Corps, Rose went in without any expectations. “I hadn’t really met other Peace Corps volunteers before so I didn’t know what to expect, which I think helped keep my mind open” – and helped her persevere when many of her peers dropped out.
Rose finished her service in June 2013, and looks back fondly on the experience. “My service exceeded all my hopes. Never in my life have I been surrounded by a group of people so inspiring and wonderfully unique. I was also very fortunate to live with an Indonesian family who took me in and treated me like one of their own. I hadn’t expected to gain another family, but I did. I still talk to them every week.”
Rose spent this past summer back in Sonoma with her parents, Vance and Kelly, who still live here. Before Sonoma Valley High School (graduating in the Class of 2006), she attended Dunbar Elementary School and both Altimira and Adele Harrison middle schools (and was in the first graduating class at Adele).
Rose has one major piece of advice for Sonoma students facing a big decision today, be it their career or where to go to college: “Try everything. Volunteer, intern, job-shadow, work, travel. We live in a very large world, go see some of it. These things just may inspire you to do something great. Go and do it. Whatever it is that interests you, do it now. Don’t be immobilized by fear or indecision.”
Rose has still not satisfied the bug for travel that she perhaps first developed when studying abroad at the University of Westminster in London during college. Despite contracting dengue fever at the end of her stint in the Peace Corps, she traveled for a month afterward to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and hopes to return to Southeast Asia soon.
Next up for Rose is the nation’s capitol. She has experience as a reporter with the Arizona Republic newspaper and with the State Press in Phoenix, as well as editorial internship at Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine and right here, at the Index-Tribune. After a cross-country trip to Washington, D.C., in her Mini Cooper, she is now hoping to use her skills to work for a service organization whose mission she believes in.