Hello folks, on this page you will find the obligatory, “About Me,” information, in case you don’t know me in person and have just stumbled on this page by chance.
My name is Jonathan McLean and I grew up in Franklin, Massachusetts. I am lucky to have grown up in a family that has always promoted education above all other interests, but do not take such a statement to be an indication of a repressed childhood, for my childhood experience was very fulfilling. I spent plenty of my time growing up outside, playing in the metaphorical mud, late nights out with friends, and basically acting like the general goofball I am.
I graduated from Connecticut College (Conn) in May 2008 with a double major in Computer Science and History. Academically my focuses were on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Medieval Peasantry, but in reality I have always been most interested in the intersections of humans and their own technology. Early on I was playing with computers both in the forms of video games and general interest in the technology. I remember my first email quite well. Dialing into TEAC at 28.8 kpbs is a pain I am glad to be rid of.
On top of all this studiousness and general nerdom, my parents would pile the four kids quite frequently into the car and off we would go on some zany McLean adventure. Some memorable experiences include hearing sirens go off our first night at the Grand Canyon as some tourists went over the ledge; my father being almost run down by a buffalo whom he had startled by using what my siblings and I referred to as his camera’s, “atomic flash,” at night, and of course the Scotch Whiskey Distillery tours at nine in the morning (they always included free samples).
All of this rambling leads to one critical moment. I had just arrived home from a semester in Canberra, Australia at the Australian National University. My semester overseas ended a few weeks earlier than my fellow students at Conn so I decided to take up the job I had just left that summer, working as a web designer in a little web boutique in town building sites for local small businesses and individuals. I love web design, and I especially love how people use the web every day and how we can tap its power, but the work at the shop would get boring. Design and development are fun, but ultimately I am not a code monkey at heart, and at that point I knew I needed something that focused more on the intersection of people and technology; I knew I needed to be at that crossroads.
So I began looking at not-your-regular tech jobs and threw into the mix my passion for travelling and living abroad. Add a dash of adventure-like experience and the search very quickly narrowed down to one organization, the Peace Corps. With a little more research and talking to some individuals (which included more than one, “You’re looking at what?”) I decided to apply. Through the Peace Corps I would be working with people and technology in a virgin environment where I feel I could make more of an impact, where the day-to-day would be anything but regular, and where the element of adventure is certainly present (can you say drinking sterilized water for two years…).
A year later I find myself the happy recipient of an invitation to Kenya to serve as an Information Technology volunteer. I have never once regretted my decision, and as long as I don’t get eaten by a lion, this experience will be a critical stepping-stone on my path through life. Two years is a long time to some, but I am more worried that it will go by before I know it. All I know is that for the first time in my life, I am taking on a job without unwanted compromise. Though the life will be far from easy, I have a gut feeling that it will fulfill the Peace Corps’ own motto of being, “The toughest job you’ll ever love.”