In 2009 I set myself 4 goals as steps towards a future of providing assistance on locally driven aid projects in developing countries. In their original form, those goals were:
- Publish a book on Bhutanese culture
- Complete a Masters in anthropology
- Buy a studio flat in Australia
- Invest the rest of my savings to create a modest passive income
I imagined a life as I’d had in Bhutan, where I kept myself entertained with a mix of my own projects and helping develop local talent. In this future, I would collect stories of living and working with locals to tell as part of my mission of building cultural tolerance. As often happens in life, both the goals and vision changed along the way.
Studio flats were more expensive than I had expected and my savings didn’t stretch as far as I had planned, so I ended up buying a one bedroom flat to rent out on a weekly basis. I could then reserve it myself for the times that I returned home. All my CDs and precious items would be accessable from local storage.
But the most important feature of my goals was the flexibility they gave me. I could combine IT, anthropology and writing as appropriate to help local projects. I could focus on writing or on personal involvement in tolerance building activities. Or I could simply enjoy travelling.
Sri Lanka was recognition of my achievement of these goals and a chance to reflect on my priorities. Now I’ve finished my 6 weeks of teaching IT to children from poor families, I know that I want to share my time with someone. So, I’m exercising that flexibility by heading back to Australia to build a life with a special woman. This will require me to go back to income-producing work and it will undoubtedly mean an increase in my materialist desires – smart phone, new speakers.
It doesn’t mean that I’ve put aside my dreams of travel or of writing about culture to build tolerance. I still have a number of posts to write about Sri Lanka and programs like Projects Abroad will provide a good opportunity for quickly immersing myself in local cultures while living permanently in Australia. I also hope to become involved with the Aboriginal community in Sydney and to better understand their struggle to maintain their own culture while fitting into modern Australia. I hope you will follow me into this new future.