Archive | March, 2013

dat feeling ….

11 Mar

…. when you find that sweet spot in bed and then you have to pee

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…. when you accidentally address someone as “Michael” instead of “Mark” on an important job application cover letter

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…. when you’re surfing and a nappy hits you in the face

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…. when you wake up thinking it’s 6am but it’s actually only 3am and you have 3 more hours

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…. when there are so many geckos, ants, beetles and mosquitoes in your room you just let them have it

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…. when someone gets choc coated macadamias in their care box

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Everybody is doing amazing things!

1 Mar

Chatting with a friend the other night, she told me she often mentions me in conversations she has, referring to me as the friend who is “doing amazing things overseas”.

Earlier that evening, I had spend the early twilight hours in a 3x5m patch of dirt in the next street over from my apartment playing with a bunch of neighbourhood kids. One little girl, Kimberly, around 9 years old had attached herself to me as my games assistant.

We were playing a combination of overhead and tunnel ball with a lot of babies involved not knowing how to play and the subsequent cheating that followed and elastics (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales! Inside, outside, puppy dogs tails!). While we were doing this, a rich looking lady turned up. I knew she was rich because she had fair skin by Filipino standards, a fake chanel purse in tow and turned up with her daughter holding a bunch of pirated DVDs freshly purchased.

Kimberly, my assistant, was sitting next to me chatting away when the lady said to me “oh you’ve made friends with her, the black one”, referring to the colour of Kimberley’s skin. Immediately, Kimberley stopped chatted, her shoulders slumped and her glittery eyes went down to her lap. “Hey Kimberley”, I said quietly, “Do you think I am beautiful?”. “Yes!!” She said wholeheartedly! Me: “Do you think I’m fun? Do you think I’m funny? Do you have a good time playing with me?” Yes she said to all these questions! “Well”, I said, “look at the colour of my skin. It’s even darker than yours! And if you think I’m beautiful and fun and funny and good to play games with, then that means you are too”.

I will never forget the smile that broke from cheek to cheek and made her eyes sparkle at that moment and she became my games assistant again.

Working on a development assignment is pretty pretty pretty good. I feel like I have done meaningful work and shared a lot of my professional knowledge and experience with my organization and made significant contributions to my community. But I haven’t done anything they wouldn’t have done themselves in their own way and on their own time. When I look back on this experience, I won’t remember the key performance indicators like how many people attended a training workshop I held, or how closely I followed the policy cycle to develop the comprehensive land use plan. I will remember moments like making Kimberley smile and know even just for that afternoon that there is more to beauty than the colour of your skin.

So on paper, it seems like doing a development assignment overseas is a pretty amazing thing. In a lot of ways, it is and I feel proud of myself for everything I have achieved here. But to be honest, I don’t know anybody who isn’t doing amazing things…

So many of my friends are doing it in their jobs – enabling the creativity of future generations of young people, giving people the tools to move through their journeys with kindness, showing people attention and care, speaking for people who can’t, capturing and sharing beauty with others, creating environments for people to thrive and so many more. Also, I feel like my friends are doing amazing things outside of work by moving consciously across the earth, sharing so much of what they have with others, including the simplicity of laughter and joy.
Lots of my anxiety around leaving this place and going home has to do with leaving this opportunity where no matter what I do, the fact that I am here doing this job means I am “doing an amazing thing”. But I was reminded of the importance of the small amazing things like in that experience with Kimberley. I had moments like that before I came and I will again, without the fanfare of an international development extravaganza overshadowing everything else. I will exchange inspiring Filipinos for inspiring people back home who can help me continue to do amazing things and with whom I will do amazing things together in as many moments as possible.