Friday, 13 July 2012

Back to the days of binary thinking

Who would have thought there would come a day when the sight of a database query option would bring me such an odd sense of pleasure and satisfaction?

In the last few days, really these last few weeks, I've been doing "normal" workplace activities that I've found comfortingly familiar in an eerie sort of way.  Yesterday I was talking to a staff person at Cuso, and by chance found out that he was struggling to use their internal database.  I asked some more questions, so he finally waved me over to look at the screen and I was able to help him set up a query to pull the information out that he needed.  My work with databases began at the age of 15, when my father handed me a box of "Maximizer" database software and asked me to figure out how it worked and build a database, including doing all the data entry for the donor list of the three western provinces he was covering.  So I sat in my pajamas in the basement for a pittance an hour and learned something about databases (and memorized through repetition the postal codes for those provinces).  The first workplace that hired me full time also used Maximizer.  Go figure.

On Tuesday I was part of team presenting to a new parter organization, orienting them to Cuso's processes as they will be recieving a volunteer in a few weeks. The material was new to me - in fact, there were a few slides in which I asked Tarik, the country representative, if he had anything to add, hoping that he would take over and come to my rescue - but the process of presenting in front of a small group is a very familar action and was common in my work life of the past few years. I had the usual fun with bullet points that zoom in from the side of the screen!

On my own time I've been working with the Montego Bay Marine Park, an important organization working on the protection of the reefs just offshore here in Montego Bay. A few weeks ago, they asked me to help write a progress report based on a plan that had a typical project management timeline in it.  I looked at the document and thought, "Yeah, I know what to do with this."

These actions had a very familiar feel to them, which in itself, was a bit unfamiliar.  I have been pushing myself to learn new things, meet new people, and be in unfamiliar situations these past months.  Although this is a good place to be, and some things have been a lot of fun to learn, (like sailing) it is nice to feel familiar and comfortable with a task once in a while.  It is reassuring to know that in addition to the many opportunities to learn here in Jamaica, I also have experience in databases, presentations, and project management timelines.

OK, that doesn't really sound that exciting at all - maybe I'll just stick to new skills like sailing!

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