Tuesday, May 31, 2011

By Michael

Breaking bread in the cockpit with Mexican fishermen,
Islas San Benitos, 1997
Today was the last day of my IT consulting career. Over the years, I came to appreciate that the company I work for truly celebrates diversity. At the start of my tenure, I rolled my eyes at this seemingly obligitory nod to political correctness. But I soon learned that promoting diversity is not lip service, it is a dedication to peer reviews and consideration of other points of view--all in the interest of delivering the best results for a client, and winning more work in the long run. It is a strong culture of celebrating (and promoting) the most effective staff. From my first day in 2003, I felt I could take my career as far as I wanted and I never felt that my efforts--even if unsuccessful--were overlooked.
Accordingly, I enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside my colleagues from all over the world. I was personally enriched by my professional and personal relationships with nationals from Brazil, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Romania, Russia, and Sri Lanka. Growing up in suburban Southern California during the 1970s and 80s, I didn't have the opportunity to play and learn with classmates or neighbors who spoke, thought, and ate very differently than I. My world was characterized by light-skinned people who shared similar backgrounds and life experiences.
It's been especially interesting this past couple weeks, describing our cruising plans to everyone at my office. A few got it, instantly. They may have been surprised I am doing this, but they were familiar with the cruising concept and their questions centered around where the boat is now, where we are planning to go, and for how long. But for many others it was completely foreign. Completely foreign. After I explained everything, many of those folks remained incredulous. I was always happy to explain and answer any questions. It struck me that growing up in the U.S., phrases like, "sail off into the sunset" are a part of the lexicon and the "dream" to sell everything and take off on a sailboat is not so unique in our popular culture.
This speaks to one of the primary reasons we're leaving now to do this: our girls. In our cruising lifestyle we aim to immerse ourselves in many cultures, across continents. I'm pleased to anticipate my girls enriched--and to a far greater extent than I have been to date--in ways that shape them as curious, compassionate people who celebrate and promote diversity.
Two days of packing and then comes departure day. We can't wait.

Life underway in 1997, flying a 130 in light airs
somewhere off the coast of Guatemala

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