Sorry for the delay on my last blog for my Pulse assignment. It has been a true whirlwind. I had 5 days upon my return to pack up my house in Dallas, TX and move to Raleigh, North Carolina for my new job! The day I moved is the day I started and it has not stopped.
In this transition I have had to buy a car (for the first time in 14 years), find a place to live and rescue a dog. In the past this has been very stressful. However this time it was different. It was not nearly as stressful and the calm that I had was even mentioned to me. What do I attribute that to? My Pulse assignment. We can speak about resiliency, but for it to actually be observed was quite different. It even shocked me a bit. But when you are thrown into a new culture, in a new job, in a new country, I guess this seemed easy.
When you come back from this life changing experience, all you want to do is talk about it and share it. I have learned that most people do not really want to share it with you. There is the cursory questions about my experience and what I brought back. However the in-depth conversations around America’s place in the world, human rights, gender equality, gay rights…..are non-existence. When the conversations go down those roads, you see this look on people’s face that is a mix of fright and working out how to get out of the conversation. I get it. I truly understand. I would have been the same prior to leaving for Vietnam. It would not have affected me and in this world where people just want to watch cat videos vs. what is actually going on in the world, has to be understood. People just want to live in their bubble. We live in communities here, but we then go into our houses and do not actually commune with those around us. Communal living is going out and being among your neighbors and even strangers. I learned this in Vietnam, but I have found it hard to do that here.
I was contacted by 2 new volunteers that will be going to work for Path in Vietnam for this year’s Pulse assignment. To understand that the cycle continues and that new people will get this experience makes me smile. The lessons they will learn and how they will change will be amazing. Also to know that the work I was doing with Path will be continued is an additional bonus. To hear their excitement and nervousness brings back all the memories I had this time last year.
I have stayed in contact with the people that I worked with at Path. They continue to do all their great work, but the stress is high. The political climate here has affected them there. Their biggest source of funding is USAID. There are threats to cut this funding. This means many great NGO’s like Path would be affected and the people that they serve could be affected as well. Because of my new perspective on the world, I have gotten more involved. I am now in contact with my local congressman and Senators to make sure they understand the issues and to vocalize my view points. I have joined the local HRC to make sure people are treated fairly here and I am volunteering at a local LGBT center to help the local community. For me to have this new perspective would be meaningless if I did not act. In the past I would have said I wanted to act, but would not have. This is one of the greatest things I have brought back. No more sidelines. It is all about being in the game and maximizing my time while I am playing.
I would not have gotten this had GSK not supported this program. Big Pharma can be seen as an evil in this world. Some of that reputation is earned. Some of it is not. All I can say is how proud I am of my company for their philanthropic spirit to do the right thing. I have always been loyal to GSK, but their investment in me just solidifies my commitment to them. I could not be more proud to work for this company and I hope that I make them proud in return.
Thank you all for your support in this journey. The journey does not end here. It is only the beginning!