My alarm goes off at 7 a.m., the familiar drone I have come to both loathe and love. I roll over and hit the snooze button, momentarily forgetting why I get up so early. When I open my eyes again it is 7:05, my precious running time is slipping away. The electricity is on this morning in (city), (country), and I can dress in a well-lit room. It is 90 degrees but I don my most modest running apparel: tights with baggy gym shorts over top and a long-sleeved top. It is far from ideal for summer, but one has to make concessions to run in a Muslim country.
Outside the dawn sky is a beauteous rainbow of blues, purples and pinks, but the sun is nowhere in sight; it always takes extra time for it to crest the X Mountains. I switch on my watch and start to pound out my mileage. It is a wonderful time to be outside; the air seems cool, and (city) is just waking up. Shepherds herd cattle and sheep through the cobbled streets, shop owners wearily open their shops, and the smell of fresh-baked bread fills the air.
Nothing up to here is really necessary. You need to start strong and on-topic and stay that way. Is there anything
unique about hitting snooze?
My mind is awash with thoughts. When I was in the Peace Corps, I spent this time thinking about school. Now, five years later, I am still in (country), but I am doing work that I hope will contribute to the strengthening of respect for human rights, particularly press freedom.
Parallel structure, my friend! Yeah, you do press freedom work now, but what thoughts exactly is your mind awash with? Laundry list the kind of things you worry about on a daily basis, perhaps.
In a runner’s high, I allow myself to marvel at how the local non-profit I helped to establish here, (name of organization), has flourished over the last several years. However, this work is becoming increasingly difficult and even dangerous. Since 2005, a wave of repression against journalists has gripped the country. In addition, in (month, year), my (nationality) fiancé and I were detained in X airport, and in (month, year), my fiancé was brutally beat by police and had to be hospitalized for 20 days. Incidents like these are constant reminders to (organization’s) staff, me included, that we cannot become complacent; we must continually strive to improve ourselves.
Okay... this talks a lot about the difficulties, but I know almost nothing about your organization. What do you do, exactly? What have you accomplished? What inspired you to start it in the first place?
In April 2008, I began interning at the (city) office of the American Bar Association. Working alongside the ABA's American and (local) lawyers, I have become convinced that legal advocacy would help my fiancé and I and our colleagues to achieve our goals. I now pursue a law degree in order to acquire the skills necessary to help secure basic freedoms and human rights in (country), and to enable me to defend my own rights and the rights of those I love as we continue this important and dangerous work.
Maybe "my fiance, our colleagues, and I". This paragraph is vital, but can you provide some specific examples of the accomplishments you've helped make with legal advocacy that make you think it's the best path?
When I return from my run, my host family is awake. They have a cup of steaming hot tea and bread with homemade goat cheese ready for me. It is the perfect post-run breakfast, but best of all, the company of my host family reminds me why all of this work is so worthwhile.
Seriously... you can't say anything without backing it up. Sure, they give you a good breakfast, but why are your host family and others like them wonderful people you want to help?
I don't think the running frame adds anything to it. It seems like you started an awesome organization, and I see more pretty descriptions of place x than any real information about your organization. I would focus much more on the organization and cut out or down the descriptions. It sounds like you have a lot of solid material to write about (jealous!) but you can make this better. It'd probably be better to write in detail about one thing than hit on several points superficially. Good luck!