The weighty question of what to do next is not an easy one to answer. Part of the rationale for deciding to volunteer in Bangladesh was to investigate the possibility of working in the fields of international development and human rights (see post 2.) After more than a year of working in Dhaka, my investigation has proved inconclusive. It transpired that the particular circumstances of my assignment were not typical of work in the development/human rights sector (see posts 25 and 48). It would be much too easy to simply row in with negative critiques of development based on my limited experience. Instead, I remain open to the possibility of further exploration, based on a more informed and considered pre-evaluation of potential projects.
I’ve written about the importance, for me, of meaningful work in post 25. Thomas Moore said that ‘finding the right work is like discovering your own soul in the world’. More than a century later Philip Larkin, in his Letters to Monica, wrote: ‘How little our careers express what lies in us, and yet how much time they take up. It’s sad really.’
Ultimately, I would like to find work, and a way of working, that makes me feel alive, that enables me to express myself and use my energies creatively, in order to live an interesting, worthwhile and ‘original’ life. There are a lot of things that I enjoy ‘doing’. For example, I love to write, to travel, to research, to think, to mentor and to juggle different ‘projects’, assuming they hold meaning and interest, both for me and for stakeholders. Above all, I love to learn and to work with interested others.
So, if there’s anybody reading this who thinks they might have the perfect assignment for me, please get in touch. (You can find me on LinkedIn too.)
Unfortunately, now might not be the best time for high expectations with regard to work options. In the wake of the financial tsunami, doom and gloom is overshadowing this country and indeed others, with economies facing the most severe downturns in decades. As people here adjust to living in a post-affluent society, daily headlines are dominated by words like ‘bankruptcy’, ‘depression’, ‘recession’, ‘unemployment’, and ‘emigration’. The national mood is one of anger, especially amongst those who did not engage in the ostentatious, conspicuous spending of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ days. It’s a sad state of affairs to come home to: I love this place, and it’s not easy to watch its decline. If I want to remain independent and stay afloat financially, I may not have the luxury of pursuing personally interesting endeavours at this time. Realistically, I might not have a choice for now, with regard to work – that is, if I can find any work at all!
Dear Ann, I have read your blog with interest as tomorrow I am headed to Dhaka, working for 4 months with BRAC after spending 5 months in Nepal for SIRC. Although you seem to have left Dhaka end 2010, your blog was insightful to me, and a pleasure to read. I hope you found the type of work you were hoping for. I am hoping for the same.
Dear Kate, thank you for your lovely comment. I’ve browsed through your blog and read about your wonderful work and your adventures in Nepal. I’ll be very interested to follow your experiences in Dhaka, especially your work with BRAC. To answer your question, I’m still striving to find the kind of work I had aspired to in this post. It hasn’t been easy, but perhaps now that economies are picking up, more opportunities will become available.
Wishing you every success in Bangladesh.I am looking forward to reading your posts. In the meantime, have a safe journey!