Well I have all but finalized planning the next stage of my life. This is something I’ve been wanting to do the last few years but entered the corporate world first. The timing and flexibility made it a perfect combination.
So to explain more, I’ve decided to take a leave of absence to volunteer in Peru for 7 months. This is great timing since I’ll be coming off program and will have no other responsibilities after training my replacement. I had read about the idea before in blogs, articles, and books and it had always intrigued me. It’s really a great concept: take the time off to volunteer (or travel or family time or whatever) and then come back to the company recharged. The satisfaction and experience I have while volunteering, I stressed, would make me a more rounded person and businessman. So in August, after I return to the US, my leave will start and will continue to the end of March.
I will be working with a non-profit (the US non-profit works alongside the Peruvian non-profit) who runs a fair-trade business for the indigenous women weavers located in the Andes mountains. The women make the traditional, colorful Peruvian dress, rugs, and other products. The women live in a rural village and do not have access to the market to sell their products. This is where the non-profit comes into play. The non-profit runs a small shop in the tourist town of Ollantaytambo selling these products. Most tourists who make the trip to Macchu Picchu will make their way through this town. Most just go from the bus stop to the train station and not much more. However, this city seems to have so much more. They call it the “Living Incan City” since many of the old Incan buildings are used for stores, homes, etc. So some of the houses might be 400 years old (I’m hoping to get a host family with this!). It’s a village of 2,000 people with a strong sense of community. This is something I’m really looking forward to after living in bigger cities for the past 2 years.
I’m extremely excited to be able to live in Peru for these months. I’ll have the chance to dedicate my time and energy to a great purpose. I’d read a bit on working to create sustainable incomes for impoverished women, and it’s something that really interested me. I’ll have the chance (hopefully) to use what I’ve learned in the corporation and put it to good use. I’ll also be living the Andean life since I’ll stay with a host family. I’ll be speaking Spanish and taking lessons. I’ve also never lived close to mountains before. The village is located right in the mountains, so it’ll be easy to hike and camp. All of this, along with experiencing a completely different culture, makes me extremely excited to head there at the beginning of September!