“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”. John Lennon
Well, John, I think you were on to something. If things had happened according to plan, I’d be using up my remaining vacation days right now, serving on a Global Volunteer Project in Italy. Instead, here I sit in New Jersey, typing away, with one eye swollen shut. Five days before departure, I discovered I had a detached retina. Emergency surgery performed the next day clipped my wings. No flying anywhere for 8 weeks!
Guess I’ll have to wait till 2012 to find out whether a woman with few real skills and limited talents can make a meaningful contribution. I’m hoping that abundant enthusiasm will make up for said lack of skill. In my youth, I had fantasized about a stint in the Peace Corp, but my aversion to any possibility of discomfort proved to be a rather formidable barrier. That, plus a mountain of student loans made work without pay impossible.
Anyway, here I am, decades later, getting ready to retire-reinvent-recreate by sticking my toe into volunteer waters. Although Global Volunteers offers programs throughout the world, I decided my first experience would not be Africa, Vietnam, China, India or even Mexico, but Southern Italy. Good food, good weather, and I even have a shot (albeit a LONG one) at deciphering the language essentials.
I chose Global Volunteers because I love their overall philosophy. As a ‘servant learner’ I will to do whatever I am asked to do, within my limitations, working under the direction of local leaders. Global Volunteers’ object is to empower and support the local people to complete their chosen projects. The local community decides how the volunteers will be used and everyone works together. For some locations, the chosen projects require physical work, such as building a school, or digging a well. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I would not be a good choice for those projects. Instead, I decided on teaching conversational English.
I was assured that my not knowing Italian or having any teaching experience would not be a hindrance. My main contribution is my English speaking ability. Yep, I can do that. So despite my very deep disappointment in the delay, I’m feeling so fortunate that my eye problem didn’t occur while I was in the middle of the project.
So, other than healing and regaining my eyesight, nothing interesting will be happening for a while!