Dream Job Becomes Reality with Head-spinning Start and a Lei|
by Nancy Peyron, Project Coordinator
When people ask what I do, I often tell them, 'I have the job of my dreams.' In 1989, I dreamed of facilitating community development in an international setting. That vision led me to return to college at age thirty-seven to obtain an undergraduate degree in international studies and a master's degree in organizational development.
Before my studies were barely complete, I was flying to Micronesia as the first full-time project coordinator with the Micronesia and South Pacific Program. In a few short years, my dream had become reality.
It was a crazy time--in July 1994, two days before my graduate courses ended, I found myself driving to Eugene from Seattle, buying and packing clothes for the humid Pacific climate, hoping they were appropriate, and jumping on a plane to Honolulu. Maradel greeted me at the airport with a lei, and my job began.
My head continued to spin as we traveled from island to island for three weeks, meeting agency supervisors and TA counterparts and learning about the program and the wide variety of summer projects in which everyone was involved.
While Maradel assessed project development, I questioned TAs about their relationships with people on the island and checked on their personal well-being. This team effort was the harbinger of our challenging and exciting working relationship. Since then, we continue to build on one another's strengths--Maradel's passion for creating and nurturing projects and my interest in people, how they feel about the work they are doing, and how they interact.
The summer site visits demonstrated that my extroverted personality was going to add a new dimension to the program as I pay attention to the people component when coordinating and developing projects. It was an ideal time in the development of the organization for someone with my background to join the team. I am committed to facilitating healthy communication and promoting reciprocal support among our staff, participants in the TA training program, and people in the island agencies.
During the summer, one of my responsibilities is running 'base camp.' When TAs leave Eugene to begin their three-month island trek, I become their link to places and people they leave behind. If they need additional supplies or research materials, have a message to be relayed, or want to tell someone about their amazing journey, I'm the one at the other end of the telephone and fax machine.
This summer, I'll be making site visits to agencies on Palau, Yap, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Majuro, and American Samoa, logging more than 30,000 miles. I look forward to seeing TAs 'on assignment' and meeting agency personnel with whom they will be working. Maradel will be in Eugene covering 'base camp' during that time.
Maradel and I usually take turns traveling, and between us, we generally make three site visits a year. A four-week May trip covers the same islands mentioned above except for American Samoa, and in February Maradel spends from two to four weeks in the Pacific.
These trips can be grueling--traveling thousands and thousands of miles, schlepping luggage from place to place, and coping with high humidity (a real contrast to summer in Eugene). Crossing the international dateline, sometimes I'm not sure what day it is, but I am sure of one thing: This is the job of my dreams!