Like many organizations and movements, we at the Otesha Project love acronyms. We use them for our tours, our partner organizations and even for each other. One new one is the BRQ for the Billy Ray question.
See, the main character in the play that forms the core of our program offerings, Reason to Dream, is a typical Canadian high school student named Billy Ray. One day his home room teacher Mrs Pinsky assigns the class a paper due the next day called “What are you going to do with your life?”. In the hallway after class he finds out that all of his friends know exactly what they are going to do with their lives, even they are going to buy their first car. Billy has no such vision of what he is going to do with his life. When he suggests that he might not even get a car, everyone in the hallway freezes in horror. “Well, I mean, I probably will.” he says, and everyone sighs in relief before they carry on.
When Billy goes home to work on his assignment he falls asleep and into a crazy dream sequence that shows him the environmental and social justice implications of some of the choices he makes in his every day life. Throughout, the question “What am I going to do with my life?” keeps ringing in his ears. And that is the Billy Ray question.
Many kids decide at a very young age what they are going to be when they grow up, be it a doctor, an actor or a firetruck – but I was always undecided. The first time I was really confronted with the BRQ was when I was in grade five when I was faced with the decision between advanced math or regular math. That would dictate weather I could take advanced or regular math in junior high, which would dictate the same for high school, which would dictate if I could take a science or engineering program in university should I choose to go to university. So the little grade five me was essentially being asked if I was prepared to completely rule out a career in science or engineering FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. After someone explained to me what the word engineering meant, I was one stressed out eleven year old.
Thankfully there were grownups around to explain to me that in reality people change careers all the time and that I would have opportunities to change my mind later on. Turns out they were right and that for many reasonable people the BRQ is a work in progress. I have been finding it helpful to think about things in terms of what I want to learn about and what problems I want to work on based on what I think I’m good at.
One usually doesn’t expect to land a decent job right out of university, but somehow I managed to beat the odds and find myself starting a new job within two weeks of finishing my last assignment. Serving as Programs Director for the Otesha Project turned out not to be a decent job but an amazing experience that I expect to be among the most important ones I will ever have. As you may know, I am not a sports fan – but I imagine the feeling I have had working in the office of an organization I always admired is something like finding yourself a player on your all-time favorite sports team.
All of a sudden I was managing teams of enthusiastic and inspiring participants and setting them up with opportunties to work with other youth around really important topics like food, trade justice and the media. Then I got to help plan the next set of programs and see them through to the end as I got all mixed up in everything the organization does. Currently I am planning myself into oblivion as I finish up my tenure within the next few weeks.
As the BRQ rings through my head right now more loudly than it ever has, I have been updating my CV (another acronym) and thinking about what I need to learn next. I just posted an online version of my CV on Linkedin, the social network for grownups.
I’ll keep you posted on what becomes of me, but in the meantime here is an index of some of my posts about Otesha followed by a picture of the best Programs Team the Otesha Project has ever seen: