Monday, July 11, 2011

There are always pros and cons...

Working for any non-profit has its upside and downside. But sometimes these are easier to see when you work for a really big organization like World Scouting. For example, I am in a completely amazing location...Geneva, Switzerland. I have my own office with a window that looks out over a school yard.
 I have every tool of support and technology at my disposal. I have resources, constant internet access and the partnership of a 20+ person staff at the World Bureau working to bring strong programs to Scout groups worldwide. I am surrounded by knowledgable, experienced people. I even have my own phone extension! 
Especially for my program: Messengers of Peace, there is funding available for almost every reasonable request. We have even flung a few wild ones out there that may fly! The Foundation sponsors are talking about YouTube videos, Google Earth links, a facebook and twitter presence and iPad2 give-aways.
What's not to like?
But it does come with a downside. I am not working hands on with a grass-roots project where I see immediate results. The Messengers of Peace initiative is a 10 year plan...10 years, that is a really long view. And I'm only here for the first 10 weeks. I can only guess...and hope... where it will spread and the impact it will have on the lives of boys and girls just now entering Scouts. 
I am working to help establish systems that will be in place for decades to come. Ones that I hope will strengthen people and enlarge capacities so that the six world-wide regional offices can tackle some of the problems in their individual cultures systematically and with a real confidence that they are making a long-term difference.
Some of my classmates are able to see what their work is accomplishing. It is exciting. I am working with a lot of hope and prayer, but that can be exciting, too.

Meeting new people in a foreign country...

This is a little primer on how to meet people: 1. Be lost but don't look like it.  2. Be an automatic ticket machine klutz.

Story 1: Between the work in Kandersteg and my trip back to Geneva, I decided to spend the day in Bern. Bern is the seat of Switzerland's federation and has a population of about 1.3 million people. I got off the train, stored my bag in a locker at the station and set out to explore the Old City. Fortunately, most train stations in Europe are located in the heart of the original towns, so it is only a short walk to some of the city's most beautiful settings and buildings. 

One thing that is a problem in Europe is free wi-fi...or any other kind of free internet connection. Since my family still is not ready for a complete communication black-out, I need to find internet to let them know I am alive and well in one of the most westernized places in the world. Now how to do that in the middle of Switzerland's capital city with no connections? Starbucks! Bless those Seattle natives who want to rule, least the coffee world. And while I am not a coffee drinker, I do like the mocha frapps and the free wi-fi.

After the concoction and connection, I set out to see the churches, the famous Bern bears and the city. As I was studying the ups and downs of the map, I was approached by a young Asian woman asking if I knew how to get around town. Surely I didn't look that confident, but since we were both headed toward the bears, we decided to walk together. Hyobin is 23, just finished her 3rd year at university in Seoul and is heading to Southern Illinois U to finish her studies to become a teacher. She has been couchsurfing (shout out to Greg and Acadia) her way across Europe from early May through July.  

She was a delightful walking companion and I learned so much about her family, Korea and couchsurfing. She is very excited to come to the US to school but thinks she will teach in Europe; she has fallen love with it. We enjoyed the skyline, the beautiful buildings, and the chiming of the 13th century Zytglogge (time bell) in the city square. 
I promised to  keep in touch by email.  It was so nice to spend time with a young adult with all the confidence and love of adventure I see in my classmates. She will have so much to give her students when she finally has her own classroom of eager learners.