Jun 10, 2011

changes


Hey party people.


I’m getting really excited to visit home next week!!! Just wanted to get that out right away.

Next order of business - I want to apologize for taking so long to get this post up – mostly because I have some news to share (for all those parents out there: don’t worry – I’m okay. I didn’t get kidnapped or robbed, and I didn’t get anybody pregnant). But I have been really busy.

Entonces, I decided that I’m going to be leaving the organization that I have been working with here, WorldTeach. It has nothing do with the organization itself, but more to do with personal disagreements about the project that I was involved with here in Bogotá.

There is a lot that I could say to explain and defend my decision, but I don’t think that’s really necessary at this point. I will summarize and say that part of the reasons is that IBM’s relationship to the project here (in Bogotá), while distant and at times subtle, had been both ideologically frustrating and practically constraining.  IBM had donated money and software, and I was part of a team of volunteers involved with a pilot program of the software in certain schools in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Bogotá. Our jobs were more complex as native English speakers, only partially involved with the software, but nonetheless I was greatly frustrated with this element of the project.  (this is not a direct parallel, but I think this is a good read and at least kind of related http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/500pound.htm).

So, I wasn’t happy. Working for a pilot program with the corporate fingerprints of IBM made it difficult to be at peace with my work, because I came here for many different reasons and with many different aspirations. Part of my reason for leaving is my own sense of fulfillment  It’s not because the job was too much work, but rather because I need the freedom to connect with students/teachers/schools/communities in my own way and respond to their needs and wants.

This decision wasn’t made lightly, and it hasn’t been easy. I think the hardest part so far has been telling the students that I’m leaving. I know I would have had to tell them eventually, even if I had stayed until December, but it still hurts now.

That’s one of the difficulties of change, and movement: the goodbyes.  Even when you’re transitioning into something wonderful, that will change your life for the better, you need to leave part of yourself in the present. And sometimes that means leaving the people that surround you. That’s what happened when I left for Colombia, and I still feel the absence of certain people in my life.

But with change there are also always hellos. My current situation is not entirely sad, because I may have the opportunity to go back on my own time and continue working with some of my teachers and students, and I intend to do some other good work here. I also intend to learn a lot more.

I should clarify: I’m going to be staying in Colombia for a while longer, most likely in Bogotá. I still have much more that I want to do, and I don’t feel that my time here is up.  I’m not sure how long that time will be, but for right now I’m thinking at least until December. I have some options for work that I’m looking into, and when I have more information about what my life will be like I will get back to you all.

And let me be clear about one other thing, I still think that WorldTeach is a good organization doing great things around the world – if, for nothing else, the quality of people that program attracts. Every one of the fellow volunteers in Colombia that I have gotten to know is an outstanding person, and I’m grateful for their friendship, which I know will be maintained :)

All in all, there is much more to be excited about than there is to be sad about. I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you and to continuing with the sharing of my experiences here.

Peace and Love,
Zach


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