Thursday, July 22, 2010

A time to work

For the last three days, Justapaz has been working together as a team on their biannual planning and evaluation.

Each year, our organization has two periods of planning and evaluation time, two periods of workshop/inservice time, two retreats, and monthly team meetings. Needless-to-say, there are a lot of meetings. In many ways, I have appreciated this time. It is good to connect with others in the office, get to know their projects and how the align with other organizational goals, get a sense of the "big picture," and visit over some good snack and lunches together.

I am also astounded at the amount of paperwork and drawn-out processing that occurs within the organization. I am reminded of my days working in special education, with hours and hours and pages and pages spent detailing specific goals, objectives, responsibilities, timelines, etc. Only for us, this happens multiple times a year, involves more people, and much more written paperwork. For example, in our last workshop together there were 85 pages of written notes. The words spoken in our two days together were recorded almost verbatim.

And while there is an amazing amount of time spent detailing "planes de trabajo," there is also a good deal of time spent in sharing feelings, opinions, and time together in prayer.

My Colombian colleagues are very thorough. Emails are never just one sentence long. They usually have a formal style and are lengthy and descriptive. Salutations and goodbyes are usually mini-speeches, with long, detailed analysis and justifications for opinions. They are hard working. According to a 2006 report by the International Labor Organization, Colombians work harder than any other country after South Korea.* Saturday is even considered a work day. They are highly convicted, devoted, faith-driven people, who are committed to working for justice in the name of Christ. And, they continue to teach me things about the work world that I have never known before. For that, I am grateful.

*Statistic is from "A Gringa in Bogota: Living Colombia's Invisible War."

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