Mid-Term Report Card

I am now at the halfway point of my time in Zambia; a good time for me to re-assess where I am and adjust the course if necessary.

As per my plan, I am spending a few days around the midway point in Lusaka. Here there is good internet, more diverse cuisine, old friends, and allies working on Zambia-wide disability issues. Now that I spend most of my time in Mongu, I get excited about coming to Lusaka. Then, after a few days, I am antsy to return to Bulozi. It’s the perfect win-win. Also, the distance from home makes it easier to step away from the imminent and see my things with a bird’s eye view.

Applying that bird’s eye view to the whirlwind month that has now passed has offered me a series of insights but also surfaced some outstanding questions.

Insights

I want to continue and extend this work.

In re-uniting with the former participants I have learned that there are areas in which we can collaborate. I suspected that this would be the case, but did not want to take it for granted. This time around, we have an agenda where my interests, concerns, and preferences are better balanced with those of the participating groups of persons with disabilities.

Exploration is great; especially with a time-limit.

It took me some time to establish my priorities, goals, tasks, and routines. As these become clearer, I find myself more open to committing to new, formal roles.

Doing different activities is energizing.

One year ago, academic writing was my full-time occupation. Spending all of my time writing – especially in one fairly rigid style – felt suffocating. Now, it’s my task to facilitate community meetings and write blog posts; with these as my day job, I now write academic papers in the evening…and enjoy doing it.

This blog has served some important functions, but it needs more exploratory

Allocating my writing energy to the blog has reduced the amount of time I devote to composing emails. The blog has been an opportunity to explore and express ideas. It is a tool for public accountability, and for drawing attention to my work; attention that could be re-directed toward specific initiatives to improve the situation of persons with disabilities in Bulozi. Despite all of these positives, I feel like I have developed too unidimensional a style. Not that it’s a bad style: I think it matches my penchant for philosophical inquisitiveness. Rather, I think that this could be more fun and interesting with more diversity. I have some plans in the works for this, but am consciously challenging myself to be even broader yet.

Outstanding questions

What happens next?

Having identified useful and collaborative tasks, there are things to do. But what is the structure that allows me to do those things? Still a work in progress, that one.

What about the things we don’t complete when I am here?

I have developed a to-do list with each group. Enough time has elapsed for me to know that the to-do list will be longer than the “done list.” Some of the things we are trying to do might involve some trial-and-error. How do I engineer my commitments to allow me to support the Plans B through F?

How to choose where to focus?

Beyond deciding the parts of the to-do list to prioritize, there are also the issues that are outside of the scope of my current commitment, but still important. Selecting the cast of winners from a pool of compelling applicants is not an obvious task. Now that I think of it, this is something worthy of re-framing. Thank you bird’s eye view!

So fair reader, there you have it: we’re halfway there.

Well, halfway to figuring some things out. And hopefully leaving with great questions about some other things. Next bird’s eye view is in early March.

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