Testing, testing 1-2-3. Am I doing this right?
When I was in Tanzania four years ago, I used to keep everyone updated by sending really long e-mails with lots of pictures. But e-mail is so yesterday. Now that I’m on my way to India, I figured I should finally get with the times and start a blog. It seems like the cool thing to do. I even got twitter! Woooow, I know!! Way to get with 2006 social media in 2014, Michelle.
I figured I should write my first post answering the question I get most often: “Why are you going to India?” Let’s start at the beginning – this is actually a story nearly five years in the making.
As some of you may know, just before starting at IBM I volunteered for five weeks as a primary school teacher in Tanzania. It was an incredible experience, but I felt that there was limited sustainable impact I had as an independent volunteer. When I was in my very early days at IBM (maybe even before I joined), I heard about this fantastic pro-bono consulting program – Corporate Service Corps (CSC). Ever since then, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. To me, CSC is unparalleled – collaborating with peers on a global assignment solving a problem for a community, with the powerhouse of IBM tools and resources behind us.
That brings us to last year. There are a few requirements for CSC, including years of tenure, performance ratings, volunteer experience etc. So I applied as soon as I was eligible. My essays can be summarized pretty simply: “Pick me, pick me, pick me!!” Thankfully, they did! Otherwise, I would have pestered them with an application every single year until they accepted me because of sheer persistence.
Then the matching process starts. They build international teams of a dozen or so – making sure that we have a mixed representation of IBMers: varying national backgrounds, areas of subject matter expertise, gender, years of tenure, and some other secret sauce variables, I’m sure. Simultaneously, this team is matched to a city in one of the four geographies we ranked in our applications (they’re pretty big buckets i.e., Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa). Thankfully I was working from home the day I got the e-mail saying that I was matched to the “India 23” team, because I started screaming and dancing. I continued this happy dance for the rest of the day, and (after final approvals) wrote back saying YES YES YES in my OUTSIDE FONT VOICE.
So why was I so excited about being matched to India? I think the love affair started about seven years ago. Somewhere between writing a paper about it for a class on “Organizational Behaviours Across Cultures”, working at Bell where my whole job revolved around it, and making new Indian friends and colleagues, I became fascinated with the culture. CSC couldn’t have matched me to a better place if I got to choose it myself.
In summary, I’m stoked. I wrote this note on my flight from Toronto, and am posting it from the London airport, where I’m waiting for my next flight to Mumbai. There, I’ll meet up with one of our team members (Jakob, from Germany) to catch our final flight leg. We’re meeting the rest of the team in Calcutta, and the eleven of us will take the train to Jamshedpur together on Saturday.
I’ll do my best to update this blog as often as I can, and will be adding photos to twitter in between posts.
Thanks for reading! What’s happening in your life? Tell me! Hearing updates makes me feel connected. 🙂