Sunday, August 30, 2015

What is Experteering?

Beyond being a fancy new word, Experteering is a new way of thinking about pro bono international work. The word volunteer used to be the umbrella word for anyone who spends his/ her time helping someone or something else. Now we have words like voluntourist and experteer to describe very different things. In the international world, the mere mention of the word voluntourism can incite heated debates on issues of sustainability and dependence in host communities as well as causing damage to the communities that these volunteers are trying to help. It’s a sticky situation because every year, well meaning people fly to all areas of the world hoping to make a difference while on vacation. The problem is that all the good intentions in the world won’t end poverty, stop human trafficking, or educate a population. The need for volunteers has not gone away, rather the need for skilled volunteers has increased. This is where the beauty of experteering comes in. 

More and more, people are becoming dissatisfied with their jobs, and they are doing something about it. When I left teaching it was a huge step into a black hole. I had no idea where I was going, but I knew I had to go. What I found was that there were lots of people like me who had left lucrative careers in search of a more fulfilling life. Some of them had a plan, but most just wanted to follow their passion wherever it took them. They were the lucky ones. I had no plan and I was lacking in passion, feeling defeated and confused about the next step. I started traveling more, but it wasn’t enough. Then I found Moving Worlds, the matchmakers of the experteer world where organizations around the world are able to find skilled professionals to help them with everything from fashion design to permaculture and everything in between. It’s a great way to find a new passion while still being able to use the skills you have or shake up your life a little bit without ditching your regular paycheck. 

Teacher workshop at Vanavil
Through Moving Worlds I found Vanavil, a small school in southern India. While they were looking for an English teacher, I quickly learned that it was only the tip of the iceberg. I was able to assess the needs of the school and look for ways to meet those needs on the ground. Not only did I teach English, I conducted teacher training workshops, helped to make a computer lab operational, assessed students, and lots of other little things along the way that were very similar to what I did when I was a teacher in the states. Now that I'm back home, I will continue working with the school by writing curriculum and helping with Vanavil's mission of  keeping kids off the streets and in school.Through this work I reignited my love of curriculum development, and I can't wait to explore all of the thoughts and ideas that have resulted from having a meaningful experience in a place that needed me.  Experteering has allowed me to stay fresh in my field while expanding my skills in a completely new and challenging context. 

Take a look at my recent interview with Moving Worlds about my experiences in India. 

If you have questions about experteering or where to start, I would love to hear from you. Post a comment below or message me on twitter @eedowd27.