Thursday, February 15, 2007

The New Job

Well, at long last, I have finally started my new job. I received the call, out of the blue, that my documents were ready and that I could come pick them up. The lack of communication with these people was maddening and, as I’m finding out, it’s intrinsic to the job here. But whatever, at least it finally happened.

I was quite nervous about this job before I started and I’m still a bit nervous. Between reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman, recently watching the documentary The Corporation and teaching International Relations (with an excessive focus on national interest and state motivation), I’ve become extremely suspect of US led attempts to “help” poorer, less advantaged countries. This concern is especially acute when it comes to Colombia as the aid programs are marketed as “for the Colombian people”, but are unapologetically derived from the US desire to reduce and ultimately eliminate coca production and the attending cocaine product that floods the streets of America.

Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, though, as the point is that poor Colombians need help and anti-narcotic motivated aid is better than no aid. But, as I’m working on a “sustainable development” project, I’m extremely interested in actually verifying that it actually is environmentally sustainable before I jump into the forest exploitation business. I highlight the word “environmentally” because I have quickly realized that “sustainable” is often used to indicate that the program is economically sustainable, in that it won’t require a continuous input of funds from the North after the initial contract period. The people that work on these things are quite clever and apparently have taken the language/rhetoric lessons of the Bush administration to heart. Call it something it isn’t, continue to insist that it is that thing, and enough people will believe you that you won’t have to suffer the criticism of your ultra-hyper aggressive policies.

At any rate, I´m still in the investigation process. As this is my first week and I’m working in “the Colombian way” as my boss put it, I haven’t had much to do aside from read about the projects, company, and “sustainable forestry” in general. I’ve also been reading up on a recent change in Colombian law (which has necessitated translations from Spanish to English as the US media basically ignored the huge change in Colombian law) and I’m writing a comprehensive document with my analysis of all aspects of our development environment. This paper may not translate to anything useful for the company directly, but it will help me to organize my thoughts, understand the projects and implementation of those projects, as well as providing what I hope is interesting material for the blog. Plus, I’m reserving judgement about this program until I have researched and read enough, so hopefully when I do post my analysis, it will be comprehensive and conclusive.

The team I’m working with, for the most part, have either been cold or outright unfriendly to me. My sweet wife tells me that it doesn’t mean anything because there’s an obvious language barrier. When we were living in London, for example, she always ate lunch alone at her job because it was difficult to fit into another language and culture. So, she told me not to worry, that these things take time. Of course, I’m really just looking for another Roving Alcoholic to entertain me.

Finally, this place is fully immersed in Chibchumbia (disorganization, Colombian style). Last Friday, I spoke with at least 3 of the HR team about my starting time. As I have class from 7-10:30 am on Mondays, I told each one of them that I would be at the office at 11 am for induction. Each one confirmed the time. On Monday morning, each one called me at different times asking when I was coming in. Then, when I finally got here, nothing was ready for me. No computer, no phone, no nothing. Just an empty desk with two telephone books.

It’s now Thursday and I have a computer with internet access but no access to the file system or an email account, nor can I send things to the printer. Essentially, it’s like I just brought my laptop to work with me so I could surf the web. The phone is lower on my priority list. Maybe next week things will get a bit better.

At any rate, as I really have nothing to do and my bosses aren’t here to give instructions, I’m going to continue translating into English a brief very critical of the new Forestry Law. At the very least, I’m improving my Spanish and my resume at the same time.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Political Favorites
Guilty Pleasures
My Global Position