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    Welcome to CANADEM Notes

    You leave home to work in another country, another culture, perhaps another language. There are many rewards – and challenges. There are personal stresses, and people don’t do business they way we do at home.

    CANADEM Notes is a service to help you figure it all out. The “Taking Care of Ourselves”

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    The Home Front

    Do the dishes before you leave

    Short term missions are a bit out of time and space.  They hold their own challenges but while we are on them we get to leave behind many of the routines and responsibilities of home and home office.

    Those who remain behind, however, are taking care of things without us and without the excitement of our adventures.

    Think through what you normally shoulder – bills, vehicle and furnace maintenance, kid pickups, staff bulletins, IT trouble shooting – and make sure that you’ve done all you can to put things in order before you depart or that someone else has clear guidance on what needs to be done.  Be real nice to that person when you get back.

    On the other end of the trip you will find that you have lost track of some tasks.  Make a “take care of as soon as I return” list so that nothing gets dropped.  (At the same time, schedule a couple of recovery days for your return.  It hurts to get off the airplane and return to the office the next morning.  You won’t be very productive in any case.)

    Stay in touch – but not too much

    Skype, texting, facebook and emails are both a blessing and a curse for short term missions.  They do allow us to stay in touch with home.  They provide hooks for conversations on return, help with trouble shooting and help us feel more grounded when out there on our own.

    The risk is that they can become a

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    Every language is an old growth forest of the mind

    We are quite clever, we human beings.  We aren’t the strongest of animals or the best at hearing or smelling or seeing.  We may not even be the smartest.  And yet, over thousands of years, finding ourselves in vastly different parts of the planet, we have figured out how to adapt and thrive.  We have accumulated knowledge of the earth and its ways that is vaster than science can tell or libraries can retain.

    One advantage is our ability to learn from one another.  The stirrup as an aid to horse riders traveled from India and China along the Silk Road and may have contributed to the rise of the feudal class in Europe.  The introduction of the potato from the Americas may have contributed to the downfall of the same class as well as explosions in populations and shifts of power from the Mediterranean countries to northern Europe.  Cell phones (as opposed to land lines) have vaulted the people of many countries into global contact.

    What we learn can make us stronger.  It can also blind us.  When we assume that what we know is ultimate and best and that every one else would be better off acting on the same knowledge, we may do harm rather than good.

    In my youth I did my darndest to convince Meo tribes in Thailand to change their use of indigo dye so that it wouldn’t stain the skin of customers to whom we were selling clothing made from Meo fabric.  Fortunately they refused.  Indigo dye

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    CANADEM Notes: PTSD Support – with compassion and corny humour

    Dr. Dee Rajska is a Canadian clinical psychologist who has a blog and website directed towards helping military service personnel manage and recover from the symptoms of PTSD.

    The underlying advice is valuable for all of us, whether it is we or someone we know who has PTSD, and whatever the source of our injury.

    The author is experienced, smart and funny.  Her blogs are short, down to earth and give practical help.  The website is called Coming Back Home and can be found at http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/comingbackhome/

    You can subscribe and get her latest, every week or so.  I also recommend that you read through the archived entries.  They explain PTSD and strategies for coping with its symptoms in an easy and  helpful  way.

    What do you think?

    If you have tips or resources related to health and the challenges of international work, please share them by sending us a message at thediscussiontable@canadem.ca .

    For more information about CANADEM and its work, go to www.CANADEM.ca .

     

    CANADEM Notes are written by Randy Weekes, Director of CANADEM’s resilience support team. randy.weekes@canadem.ca