Leia Grossman is an AVODAH Alum who has worked at UNICEF in the Child Protection Section, earned a Master’s Degree at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and helped build the Pursue community as a City Team member. She is currently spending a year in Cartagena, Colombia volunteering as a teacher through World Teach. She is blogging about her year at Cartes De Cartagena, but you can also follow along with her at Pursue. This is Leia’s first dispatch (cross-posted from PursueAction.org here)!
A little more than a year ago, I did an exercise as instructed by my brother Seth, wherein I listed my life’s goals. The instructions were:
“Get a stopwatch. Write ‘Lifetime Goals’ on the top of one page. List as many as you can in 2 minutes. Then take 2 minutes to refine, combine, and add any you forgot. Then do the same with 5-yr goals: What would you like to do in the next five years? Then 6 month goals: If you knew you had only 6 months to live, what would you want to do? 2 minutes to write, 2 minutes to revise.
Then go through, combine all lists and prioritize. Come up with your top 3 goals, these are your “A” goals. Then for each goal, take 2 minutes and list any actual activity you can think of that moves you closer to achieving that goal. What are the steps? Revise 2 minutes. Do that for all goals until you have a long list of activities. These are your “A” activities. Everyday you should do at least one “A” activity.”
I didn’t have a stopwatch, so my list of goals became rather long. At the top of my list:
- Quit my job and find one that I take satisfaction in (something creative and social justice-oriented)
The others became consolidated as follows:
- Be more physically fit and improve my yoga practice
- Get more focused in my writing
- Travel more frequently and write about experiences abroad – maybe do a volunteer project in another country
- Become fluent in Spanish
- Be more adventurous and take more risks
- Learn to dance
There were some others, but those aren’t applicable here and now.
So, with my goals in mind, I applied to teach English abroad through a program called World Teach (www.worldteach.org) and put Colombia as my first-choice country. Just submitting the application felt like a risk, and for Colombia no less. Colombia: A country ravaged by years of drug violence and marred with a bad reputation for kidnapping and child prostitution. I managed to put Colombia’s negative image aside because my close friend Ana Maria Rodriguez is Colombian and is one of the sweetest and warmest people I know, and if she’s any indication of what the Colombian people are like, well, then, it was a country I wanted to go to. I’d also heard that the Spanish in Colombia is very pure, and therefore possibly easier to learn. With Ana Maria’s words of encouragement, I submitted my application in February 2010. Continue reading