For those of you who have read our book, From Silicon Valley to Swaziland, you know that Rick’s and my paths to finding an encore career were not a straight line from our professional careers. As Boomers, we knew that retiring to rocking chairs on our front porch or playing sports or bridge was not going to provide the intellectual and emotional stimulation for our next chapters. We each found different—and still-evolving—paths to assess our skills; discover our new passions; find networks to create opportunities; determine the right organizations to join; and then move forward.
My Father Led Me to Africa
What you may not have known was how my father’s World War 2 experiences led us to Africa and our encore careers there. I wrote an article for PBS’ Next Avenue titled Dad’s Gone but His Travels to Africa Still Inspire Me. “Dad had been a 24-year-old Air Force cargo pilot in multiple countries in east, west and central Africa, plus while on the continent, he traveled to Egypt and Palestine. As she received them, my mother lovingly preserved my father’s black and white and a few color photos in a typical, black-page photo album (remember those little, sticky corner-frames?). While growing up I would often sit with him reviewing these picture and hearing his stories that accompanied them.” Please read the article to understand how his stories and photos eventually led us to Africa.
Assessing Possible Volunteer or Encore Career Projects
As for finding the right organizations to join, Rick wrote a PBS’ Next Avenue piece on how to assess the capacity of an organization, its goals, and results to determine if volunteering with them is a good fit for you. It’s called 6 Ways to Volunteer Abroad and Be Really Useful–Advice from someone who has done it the right and wrong way. He reviewed a recently published book by Judith Lasker titled Hoping to Help: The Promise & Pitfalls of Global Health Volunteering. In it she clearly has concerns about the effectiveness and benefits to the clients of short-term volunteer projects (1 to 2 weeks). Rick gives examples of the challenges of short-term efforts vs. giving money to these same causes through local organizations vs. volunteering for longer periods. He also gives insights into his and our own experiences.
Please also view our media coverage for recent activities. Since last summer we have given at least 30 book talks about Boomers and Encore Careers at Bay Area book stores and libraries; TechnoServe Alumni in San Francisco, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.; Norther Calif. MIT and Tufts Alumni; Kiwanis and many local Rotary Clubs. So far, one more is scheduled mid-August. Speaking of still-evolving encore career paths, our talk at Los Altos Rotary led me to join that organization to focus on their international programs, including those in Africa! So be attentive wherever you go—you never know what opportunities might be offered!