A Social Sabbatical in Argentina – Getting Ready…
“You cannot be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships.” – Desmond Tutu
This is not a typical week. And that’s a good thing. On the cusp of leaving my wife, kids, peers and team for a full 30 days there’s quite a bit racing through my brain, and beyond the pure excitement of the experience to come, it feels strange and uncomfortable at times – and that’s precisely the point.
In the rare instances when we are thrust out of our daily routine into a new experience, with people we will both work with and meet for the very first time, in places we have yet to visit, all sharing a common goal of positively impacting society…well that’s when real learning gets seared into your life experience. And I can’t wait.
This Friday, eleven colleagues and I depart from all parts of the globe to unite in Buenos Aires Argentina to begin a 4-week consulting engagement organized as part of SAP’s 2015/16 Social Sabbatical program.
One of 10 SAP teams off to all sorts of fascinating locations, our team has been divided into groups of three each and begin our work on April 5th for four distant organizations in Buenos Aires that share a common thread of positively impacting the region through education, inspiration and opportunity: Junior Achievement Argentina, (k-12 workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy org), Enseña Por Argentina (improving education opportunities for children and youth), Socialab (an incubator of high-impact social enterprises) and my team’s assignment – Puerta 18, an educational youth center geared to 13-24 olds to inspire their educational growth with the use of technology.
Launched in 2012, SAP’s Social Sabbatical program is a unique corporate volunteer program where SAP employees leave the daily routine of their job to work in international, cross-functional teams to solve business challenges for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises in emerging markets. Participants get the unique opportunity to turn SAP’s vision of “helping the world run better and improving people’s lives” into a personal reality and for me, that is just awesome. Check out more on SAP program here.
Our team has the pleasure to work with the leaders of Puerta 18, an innovative nonprofit that offers a variety of free technology courses, encouraging vocational learning, providing networking opportunities, and fostering artistic expression for highly diverse youth from different socio-cultural backgrounds. Our goal in the four weeks is to help design a sustainable business model and roadmap for Puerta 18 to franchise their successful model of delivering technological education to young people across Buenos Aires.
Much more to come on our project and the overall experience as it unfolds, and then afterwards as I reflect.
PS: And what a time to visit Argentina: President Obama just visited last week, welcomed by Mauricio Macri, their new pro-business president elected just this past December ending years of left-wing governments and wasting no time reforming the economy and opening Argentina back up to world markets. I look forward to being there during this time of great change, and hope.