Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Creating Your Own Path- Blog about my work with Transparency International

Thursday, 05th July, 2012 08:13 am My office- Transparency International

Today is officially my fourth day at my new job as Youth Integrity Promotion Program Coordinator with Transparency International Fiji. The more I experience this job as the days go by, the more it makes sense to me. My more immediate role with this new position is to supervise and coordinate the Youth Integrity Survey. The Youth Integrity Survey is an initiative of the Transparency International Secretariat, based in Berlin. The aim of the survey is to better understand the perceptions, attitudes, experiences and behaviors of youth towards integrity and corruption. Fiji is one of four countries in the Asia Pacific region where the Youth Integrity Survey is being undertaken in 2012, with the other countries being Sri Lanka, Indonesia and South Korea. The survey will be rolled out across all four countries with the same questionnaire and research methodology in order to achieve cross country comparability.

To help me get this task done, the team is made up of two Research Assistants, one Administrative Assistant and twenty six volunteer survey administrators. At the end of January this year, TI Fiji advertised for youth volunteers (aged 18 – 25 years) who had a fair understanding of current and future youth issues, who were passionate about fighting corruption in Fiji, and who were confident speakers, honest and reliable.
 The survey will be delivered across the Navua, Suva and Nasouri corridor; and in the Ba Provence – in Latoka and Nadi.
The aim of the survey is very basically find out, what young people see as right or wrong, which acts they recognize as being corrupt, whether or not they understand the concept of integrity and finally, where integrity is positioned in their value system, if at all.
But this blog entry is now about my new job, but rather the weird moment I had after I finished from work yesterday afternoon.
It was a normal day at work, at close to 5pm I started packing my notes and files and, what have you, into my book bag and gather my things to head home. Walking over to the Post Office to get my ride home, it suddenly hit me as I looked around. I had become one of “those” people. There I was, 5 in the afternoon, work pants, an ironed shirt, files, notes and my laptop in my bag, an empty coffee mug, and thoughts of what to get done at work the next day, running through my head. How did I get here I wondered to myself, this time a week ago I was in a hostel in Rio De Janeiro planning the cheapest route up to the Sugar Loaf.
I realized that everyone around me was walking in almost the exact same direction, towards the bus stand. It was the right time in the afternoon to be heading home, this was the exact route that was preferred by everyone to take as the first leg for the commute back home and even more importantly, everyone walked this way, at this pace, with the same somber look on their face because, it was how society had programmed our behavior for this moment of the day. Everyone was heading in the exact same direction, at the exact same momentum, for the exact same reason.
Maybe they did this because it was good manners, maybe they did this because they had to or maybe they did this because it would not disrupt the system, whatever their reasons, I did not want to be one of those people that followed the tide. I wanted to create my own path.
The independent, egocentric individual in me instantly wanted to run in the other direction. My feet wanted to turn my body in the opposite direction and go against the tide of zombies that surrounded me. I refused to be part of the system, to have this learned behavior determine how my days would end and, to merely exist in a society that did what was expected.
Trust me, as much as I wanted to give into my individualistic desires. I chose not to. There is no rule that states, it’s impossible to head in the same direction as others yet create your own path along the way. Yesterday afternoon, I had to remind myself that sometimes, you have to bite the bullet. Sometimes, you have to fit in and fall into the societal expectations and definitions, in order to achieve your goals. Every now and then you have to sacrifice a little bit of yourself in order for real change to come about.
Sure I might have an “8-5” like most other people my age and sure from time to time I will have to forego sticking it to the man. But with most things in life, you will have to choose your battles and not go into wars that don’t offer any spoils. Be smart.
Life does go on, be it mundane or full of excitement, it does. But as it does, your dreams and aspirations evolve; they become clearer, more defined and thankfully, more within your reach. Keep at it, don’t take it easy.
Go with the flow from time to time, but never lose sight of your path.

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