I hope you're as inspired as I was by my conversation with humanitarian aid & community development consultant (and wife and mom) Jennifer Choi, who shares lessons she's learned about (and from) making a multi-faceted, multicultural life that matters.
Living a multi-faceted and multicultural life
Jennifer (Eunchim) Choi is a humanitarian aid and development sector consultant of Korean descent, wife to Saula, and mom to three kids under 10. Raising 3rd-culture kids (meaning they don't belong to or identify with one particular culture) is a lot of fun and challenging at the same time. Jennifer met her Tongan husband while they were both working in East Timor.
Jennifer's family is also a church family. She is a pastor's wife as well as a ministry leader herself, and she likes to say she's in the people business, as a lot of the work she does involves mentoring, counseling, encouraging, hosting, and entertaining people.
In terms of her professional life, Jennifer is the founder, owner, and co-director of The Mangrove Collective
, an international humanitarian and development consulting firm she started in 2018 with a few of her ex-colleagues who all have experience working for not-for-profit organizations or organizations in the international development or aid sector. Many of them are working moms who worked full-time. Though they loved their jobs helping people and countries that lacked resources and levels of support, they realized it was hard to feel fulfilled in their family lives after committing full-time hours, passion, energy, and commitment into this intense field of work. So they decided to band together and launch this consultancy together about a year ago.
There are currently 9 consultants within the Collective who take on shorter-term work contracts and assignments from the same types of organizations they used to work for. Many are working moms with children's ages ranging from newborn to teenage. Jennifer enjoys working with other working moms because it brings a new dynamic and perspective into the work that they do.
A typical day
Jennifer's family just made an international move from New Zealand to Singapore, so they are still in the process of settling down and re-establishing a routine.
Typically, Jennifer gets up around 6:30-7am and gets the children ready for school. By the time everyone has had breakfast and been sent to school, it's about 8 am, at which point she starts work. Her youngest is in Kindergarten and his classes are over at 11 am, so she gets about a three-hour window to spend on work.
It takes about an hour to pick him up, settle him in back at home, and feed him lunch. Then she spends another two and a half to three hours on work, then picks up her two older girls from primary school around 3:30 pm.
Once everyone is home, she spends time helping them with homework, playing with them, cooking and eating dinner and generally relaxing until the kids' bedtime at 8 pm.
Once the kids are in bed, or at least in their bedrooms, she spends time catching up with her husband, surfing social media, checking email, and organizing for the next day. Her day usually comes to an end around 10 pm, but from time to time the nature of her work requires her to stay up until 2 am putting in more hours or even to pull all-nighters to meet deadlines.
When they lived in New Zealand, her son stayed in school all day, so she had an uninterrupted stretch of time to focus on work, but since moving to Singapore, she's had to adjust her work schedule into two separate blocks of time.
Being a minister's family, their weekends are packed with activity, so Monday is their day of rest (but the kids still have to go to school).