Professionalism and Networks

I find lately I don’t write in my blog as often because I am inundated with things to write about. As if I cannot even choose one distinct subject to write about, because I am so overwhelmed with learning and observations and confusion.

In the past two weeks I have visited Akagera National Park, done two field visits in Ngenda and Gitarama, established my yoga class, begun networking on a medical caravan project, and really pushed through some hurdles at work. I don’t know where to start so I’m coherent and actually get across some valuable ideas.

So, I will start at the surface of my brainwaves.
I have been thinking a lot about professionalism. More specifically, how difficult I find it to augment my level of professionalism, to present myself with the amount of respect I deserve, to demand a certain level of money/resources/support/respect in my work. I look at this as something that I must develop for myself, because if I do not treat myself internally as a professional, other people will not treat me this way either. I am young, but I cannot focus on that or allow it to taint my ability to contibute. I must recognize that I am, and will always be, learning. However, I must also realize how much I have to contribute. I am extremely thankful to the people I have met in my lifetime that push me towards this.

Similar level of though: Networking. A completely recurrent subject in my life over the past year and a half. I have been asked repeated here by other expats, how are you building your network? You need to build your network of contacts for the future. You need to think of how this experience will build you for the next. It’s who you know, not what you know! So that is on my mind and I am contemplating it while simulaneously (and almost unconsiously) doing it.

Also thinking almost all the time about AIDS.

“You can just forget about AIDS. There is too much money for AIDS. Don’t even consider it for your project”
This is a direct quote from a pediatric infectious disease specialist I met with last night for a drink. We were discussing the potential for ARV treatment access through a mobile health unit. She works in AIDS, is funded through money designated for AIDS only, and yet is so inundated by “AIDS work” that she discouraged even going there. Focus money where it is more needed, she said.

There is so much thought and energy and human resources and political will power going into AIDS. Granted, perhaps energy is going into some aspects more than others, but nevertheless the world is focused on AIDS.

It is my opinion that the pandemic is going to get much worse before it gets better. But since there are so many people and so much money in it already, does this mean I should focus my energy elsewhere? Even if my heart is in HIV/AIDS? Should be energy at Western go in a different direction?

And so I am lost in a world of questioning. Wanting to devote my energy to the right place, wanting to keep my passion and not burn out, wanting to be professional, to network… wondering if I should stay in AIDS or not – where are the greatest needs?

Like most things I imagine through the energy I invest in my work and relationships here something will present itself and it will be up to be to be prepared for that opportunity. So my eyes and heart are open and I wait. I wait actively.


~ by kcanderson on October 8, 2005.

4 Responses to “Professionalism and Networks”

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  2. About AIDS in Africa see-

  3. 2 things:
    1. Preparation meets opportunity.
    I know I’ve said this countless times but I’m not sure I’ve explained how I interpret it.
    When you are prepared for an opportunity, you will be ready to not only recognize your opportunity but you will be ready to seize it.
    2. In what context was she saying that there is too much money in aids?
    Too much money in Rwanda, too much money in Africa, too much money tied to the pharmaceutical companies?
    I think they all mean someting distinctly different and I also think that if you want to make a difference in aids you will make a difference.

  4. 1. Professionalism – so neat to read your thoughts here b/c I have the same struggle w/ how to portray myself professionally in the schools as a new teacher when I am only 5 years older than the oldest students & look about as old as some of the grade 10s :S. Plus the fact that I’m not sure I’ve made the transition in my own head from being a student myself to being a professional in the workforce.
    2. Kel, I know this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this from me. And likely not the first time you’ve heard this from most of the important people in your life. But you can make a difference in whatever you do. And if your passion & interest lies in AIDS then you should absolutely pursue that. The fact that there is a lot of attention & money focused on AIDS does not imply that more shouldn’t be added. Your creativity, dedication, hard-work, fresh ideas, … i could list a thousand fantastic qualities about you … will be an asset to whatever you decide to apply yourself to. And if that is AIDS – where your heart & mind lies – then that cause (not sure that’s the right label) is incredibly lucky to have you jumping on board.
    You are a phenomenal person who can do (& does everyday) phenomenal things, Kel. I hope you know that. Follow your heart.

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