jueves, 10 de marzo de 2011

Justification - from zero meridian to terra incognita

New York Skyline
Terra Incognita or the land of dragons was the representation of the world beyond it's known borders. Explorers would fantasize about the adventures and treasures that lay ahead on the road to discovery. But most people would fear these unknown boundaries.

Terra Incognita represents both ideas for me at this particular stage in my life. It was only 8 months ago that this new adventure started and I sometimes still have a hard time believing that here I am in New York City. Still, the vibrating heart of modern civilization.

Struggling to master a language that is not my own has proven quite a challenge for me. Humor and prolixity are harder to achieve when borrowing words from a different language.

I don't remember how it all came to be, it had to do with a book on natural disasters only four years ago. I remember the impression that learning about the forces of mother nature had on me. From then I started learning about the Earth Systems, and then one day I stumbled upon the idea that we might be changing the climate in an unplanned manner. It took me by surprise, computer engineer who grew up with a great passion for video games in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world --- I still like to call it the city of hope, Mexico City. Slowly the idea that we could be stressing the environment beyond repair scared me, frustrated me.

At the time I was a Urban Scientist (www.urbanscience.com), my job was to provide decision making support to car makers on the management of their retail dealer network. With the use of maps, data and analytic techniques; I was part of a selected team of engineers under the orders of a philosopher. My mission was to be the light in a sea of darkness. We were transforming the way the car industry worked in Mexico, immersing them into a culture of data, information and intelligence.

But I had jumped down into the rabbit hole... After learning about climate change, I became more aware of the new problems that the world is facing in this new millennium. I needed to know more. Some time passed until I found the first clue about the solution, Sustainable Development. Two words that have become the new hype, overused and criticized. I found a profound meaning in these two words, they became my mantra in the mornings. And I had to participate in this new era of change, and with such certainty in my mind I decided to sail towards the Terra Incognita.

Baby steps took me into the world of urban agriculture, to permaculture, to eco-communalism. In parallel
I was learning about the environment and the true meaning of Sustainable Development. Also increasing my skills in the world of maps, GIS and statistical analysis. Although on the frontier , it was still known territory. Life starts at the end of your comfort zone said an anonymous writer.

Low Library in the winter snow storms of 2010
And here I am now, studying a Master in Development Practice in Columbia University. One of the newest degrees in the school, it is preparing the new cohorts of practitioners in development with an integrated approach to sustainable development. Agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, environment, business, economics, public policy are now my new topics. I am entering many terra incognitas. Although it has been a very satisfying an exiting adventure since last September, tomorrow the next step begins.

I will be flying to the Dominican Republic to work as a volunteer with an NGO working in education. This will be the first taste of field work before my three months in Uganda in the summer working for the Millennium Villages Project. This blog will help me organize my experiences, share them with others and simply as a record for the future.

This is my first entry, it is the coordinate zero, we'll see if there are dragons out there.

1 comentario:

  1. I'll try to type this in english as it is not my natural language either...Hi Stuuuuu!!! jajaja!! it's great to hear from you this way...I enjoyed your first entry...I hope i'm not the first one reading you, but i'm sure i'm the first one leaving a comment...I enjoyed it, it's sincere and you made me share your excitement!! Good luck in this dominican republic adventure! Greetings from: 'La Gran Tenochtitlán'!! Ciudad de la Esperanza... ;)