Friday, October 12, 2012

Ch-ch-Changes: Don't want to be a richer man

The other obvious title option was "Going back to Kigali, (I don't think so!)"

I guess you can lean whichever way you want depending on your Bowie vs. Ladies Love Cool James sensibilities.  In the end, I went Bowie, and I think there's no shame in that.

(If I were a big production company I guess I would issue two copies of this post and my biggest fans would feel compelled to buy both, so let's all just take a moment to be glad, once again, that I'm not a big production company.)

Breaking News:

I had a great time visiting Kigali and the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village last December.  Now I'm going back for a little longer (1 year).  I'll be working in the village for ASYV as a professional skills development assistant for high school aged orphaned and vulnerable students.

(I've resigned my job at Perfect Sense Digital and that will be wrapping up in the coming weeks.  I'll miss the whole gang there and at Scripps in Knoxville, but I am so excited about what is coming next.)

 I'll be moving to Rwanda right after Thanksgiving this year.

The ASYV hosts 400 orphaned and vulnerable kids from all over Rwanda.  There they receive care, a first rate education and services that go beyond a lot of traditional care facilities: mental heath screenings, a family-like home life, musical instruction and constant prodding from the staff to dream big and plan to achieve those dreams.  When I visited I was amazed at the work done to make these children whole again and into leaders.

Many Rwandans work on family farms and in family businesses so being an orphan means you have no family *and* no career path.  I'm really excited to help teach kids paths forward in hospitality, technology or farming and also build relationships with businesses in Kigali where students could gain experience or find entry level employment.

On the selfish side, I'll be living right in the village where I'll work, so my commute will go from flying to another city to walking a few hundred meters.  I'm looking forward to spending less time in airports and on conference calls.  And also basically skipping winter, because Rwanda has rainy and wet seasons but no real cold season.

I'll be in DC for the next few weeks packing, getting vaccinated out the wazoo and collecting paperwork.  Before I head out, I have a couple days of orientation in good 'ol NYC so I'll try to catch you in one of those cities before I'm on another continent.

Start planning your Gorilla Trekking trips for next August, when I'll likely have some vacation while the students get a break from school.

Before I leave, I'll be in Louisville for Thanksgiving to see my whole extended clan and make some extra spending money at Churchill Downs.

I'm excited about the opportunity ahead of me to work at an amazing facility and dedicate myself to giving something back.  I'm a really lucky person and I'm not immune to the fact that I've spent a lot of energy over the past decade playing frisbee, collecting sneakers and watching professional sports.  I love all that, but it's time to pay it forward a little bit, so that these kids can get into their own offbeat hobbies.