My son has now headed off for a summer program, after which he will stay with my brother for a while before starting college in September. It is a major and wonderful step for him, and a big change for me as well, though I am somewhat prepared because of the year of service he did in Japan after his graduation from high school. But my son’s new adventure is just one of the major changes going on in my life.
Some of you may remember that in January I started a sabbatical from the job I have held for 23 years and set out to write a new story for the next stage of my life. Since its establishment, I have worked with the Badi Foundation, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization in Macau. The Foundation facilitates the establishment of community-based organizations and strengthens their institutional capacity to work with local governments and communities to design and implement educational programs that release the potential of women and youth living in China’s rural areas. It also runs educational programs and a school in Macau.
When we started out, the foundation had 3 employees, and the school had more staff than students. Now, we have an amazing team of capable and dedicated people in China and in Macau. In the past year, the community-based organizations and groups in our Institutional Capacity Building program in China have worked with over 9000 rural women and youth. The School is now a full K-12 educational institution that has gained an excellent reputation by offering programs that help develop character and build capacity for service while promoting academic excellence. It now serves close to 600 students and their families.
As much as I have loved working with the Foundation and contributing to the development of its programs, by the end of last year, I realized I was burned out and unable to meet some of the challenges with the enthusiasm, creativity and determination needed. That led to the decision to start a sabbatical. I intended to explore a variety of options until the end of the year, but stay open to the possibility that a year of freedom from some of the administrative responsibilities at the Foundation would leave me energized and ready to take up the role again. Instead, mid-way through the sabbatical an opportunity fell into my lap that was seems like it is a perfect fit — teaching at Hong Kong University in the Social Work and Social Administration department, which has just established a Masters of Nonprofit Management in association with Indiana University.
As of August 1, I will officially be working at Hong Kong University. My course load will include classes in the Master’s of Nonprofit Management program as well as a few other courses related to social and economic development. Teaching and the development of educational programs has always been part of my work at the foundation, and I am excited to be able to integrate my experience in community development with research in a more academic setting. I will still serve on the Board of Directors at the Foundation as well as on other boards involved in community development, and I will be pursuing consultancies related to social and economic development. It is exciting to be setting out on a new path, though somewhat nerve-wracking. So during the coming year, in addition to my normal quilting posts, you may on occasion hear about my new life as a university lecturer. Wish me luck!