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Business as Usual?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 04:41 PM

I’ve been back from Uganda for two weeks now. I’m caught up on projects and life in general. Africa was a joy to visit, what little of the continent I got to see. At first, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the money to go to Uganda to as a consultant to Youth With A Mission - this was a volunteer opportunity. Now on the flip side though, I’m very glad I did!

Youth With A Mission

In case you are curious, YWAM (pronounced “why wham”) is an inter-denominational global Christian missionary organization. Worldwide, they have over 1,000 locations. These bases do training in biblical theology, humanitarian aide, and even media to name a few. They also work with the communities where they are located and send out teams to do practical “on-the-ground” outreaches. You can find out more about them on their main website.

Personally, I have studied at a six-month training course with them. Since them I have periodically worked with different bases or associated ministries as a web developer, tour technician, and general I.T. services.

I gained a lot from the week-long consultation with 40 other communicators from around the globe. I learned about tackling absolutely huge issues on an international scale. The way we came at the problem, brainstormed issues and solutions, breaking them down to manageable categories was insightful. There was the cultural aspect where we all had to understand and recognize the differences in availability of technology, not to mention perception. I came away with better team experience which is good for me as a freelancer, plus saw the coordinators do an excellent job at managing a large group of people. Overall, I kept my eyes and ears open constantly to learn even while I was giving.

It was good for this consultation week to have someone with an outside perspective and background. Being active in the web industry gave me an outside-the-bubble vantage point which was appreciated. However, I was very encouraged to see that these people fight to stay relevant in what they do, even while focusing on missions work! In fact, the media/video school that is being taught by YWAM in Nigeria has had people from the Nigerian TV industry come to be trained further!

Through all this, I met a number of fantastic people! Many who directly work in my field of web design and development. There were also others who run schools and trainings. A few of these people have asked me to consider coming for one of the weeks of their upcoming schools to do web workshops or speak on communication to their students. This is very exciting to me and something I have been getting more and more interested in doing! I was giving the opportunity to give an hour workshop on building websites during our week-long consultation. Nothing like trying to gloss over a huge amount of information in an hour! It was a lot of fun and my first experience doing this. I was glad to see that I could easily teach on this without running out of material for much longer, especially as I could then focus on specific issues like web standards. I am looking forward to what falls into place over the next year or so, it would be amazing to have more speaking opportunities!

Back in Oregon, I leave for the WebVisions conference tonight. Unfortunately, my workshop this afternoon was canceled, but I will still be there for the conference proper. I went in 2006; it was my first “geek conference.” Since then I’ve been to A List Apart in Seattle and WebStock in New Zealand. I’m really looking forward to a local conference. I’ll be able to meet, network, and share with people from my area.

And what does the summer hold? An iPhone app or two possibly. Planning for a training conference in Budapest, Hungary. Maybe giving a hand in starting up a six-week communications course for YWAM Africa.

All of that along with the recent trip to Uganda and tomorrow’s Portland web conference is business as usual? Well, define “usual.” My answer is a resounding Yes!

I love my job.


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