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My Experience with E-nable Medellin/Venture with Impact

Our perceptions don’t often live in reality. Sometimes they do. I had a lot of perceptions about Medellin before I traveled there, admittedly, some from watching Netflix shows. When I arrived in Medellin, Ann, from Venture with Impact, met me with a warm smile and showed me a typical Colombian hangout in my new neighborhood. I tried my first arepas, which I learned are a Colombian staple. First perception busted, Colombians love their deep fried goods and it’s much easier to find deep fried arepas than salad. Second perception busted, I felt pretty safe there. Even being a blonde-haired, blue-eyed gringa.

Fast-forward a couple days. Venture with Impact staffer, Lindsey, guided me through Medellin’s public transport to my first in-person meeting with Adam, the head honcho of E-nable Medellin, where I would be volunteering during my month experience. A few short minutes of talking with Adam about E-nable reveal how passionate he is about helping people and providing people with the best 3D printed prosthetics he can make. This one I expected, as Adam dedicates personal time and resources to operating a non-profit charity.

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Adam suggested I meet with a teenager, Jhorman, who had already received a 3D printed prosthetic from E-nable to help plan my volunteer work. His initial idea was for me to create a basic exercise program he could pass along to the end users of the 3D printed prosthetic devices, since some people receiving the devices had obviously not used the muscles in their residual limb much and didn’t have good access to health care. As we talked, it became apparent I could contribute to some of the data collection processes Enable used for intake and follow up with device recipients. As I began to understand Enable’s recipient training process, it became clear I could use my skills as a physical therapist to help create a training manual for the group to use when delivering a new prosthetic. My work experience and research on prosthetics prior to arrival told me if the recipients weren’t trained on how to use the prosthetic for daily activities, they would not use the device much and the exercises wouldn’t be as useful.

Meeting with Jhorman confirmed my perceptions. He did use his 3D printed prosthetic every day for certain tasks, but did not have the planning skills with the device to use it during tasks like opening a zipper. His responses to what he used his device to do were a bit vague. He struggled to get the device on by himself. These are clues to a therapist an individual may not be using their prosthetic to its full potential.

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Cue nerdy therapist mode. I’m not sure if he was coming expecting to get suggestions from me on his body mechanics and strength exercises for his shoulder blades, but I couldn’t help myself. I showed him how to power his 3D printed arm with less stress on his shoulder and some simple weight bearing exercises to help his strength. Jhorman has a smile that can light up a room. He has a determined attitude and despite the language barrier between us, it was clear he was trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible.

I spent most of my volunteer hours behind my computer working on the training manual. While I was not involved in direct patient care activities, I am hopeful this project will have a more lasting impact by allowing future volunteers to use and build upon my work. Venture with Impact opened my eyes about the importance of lasting impact with volunteering abroad. E-nable opened my eyes about a fire inside me that had started to dim. All the volunteers I met in Medellin and through the online global community are doing good deeds, for free, in a profit-driven world.

I signed up for Venture with Impact to take a break in between jobs and hopefully do a little good. The E-nable community is doing more than a little good. During my last week in Medellin, I was able to observe a man being fit for his 3D printed arm. He had been going through life without hands or forearms since a conflict-related trauma about 20 years ago. There are no words to describe watching him reach and grasp with his 3D printed prosthetic for the first time in 20 years. I will remember the smile on his face whenever I need a little inspiration.

I will never know how much good I did for E-nable Medellin and their cause. I can only hope I did help. I do know I will never regret getting to be a part of such a great organization. Venture with Impact made volunteering abroad for a month a possibility for me, which shifted my perceptions in ways I couldn’t have known. My experience in Medellin allowed me to see what I need to feel inspired. E-nable Medellin allowed me to be a part of good in the world.

5 Books to Fuel your Career while Traveling

5 Books to Fuel your Career while Traveling

Traveling is prime reading time. Sitting at a café alternating between people watching and reading is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon while on vacation. It’s also one of the times I can focus and think bigger picture about my own life and career. Here are a few to inspire you on the next leg of your journey!

Digital Nomad Packing List

Digital Nomad Packing List

A new year is just beginning, and we’re getting ready to travel! As a small social enterprise, we are always trying to support small businesses, B Corps, and companies dedicated to positive social and environmental impact. Here’s what you’ll find on our packing wish list this year!

Bags

Any traveler - whether you’re going around the world for six months or a long weekend visiting friends - knows that your bag is the most important investment!

United By Blue is dedicated to durable, sustainable goods meant for all types of adventurers. In addition to using responsible materials in their manufacturing, they pledge to remove one pound of ocean trash for every product sold! Their 30 Liter Base Backpack is perfect for a weekend of urban sightseeing or a day hike in the mountains (and who doesn’t love that topographical map print??)

We love Cotopaxi’s collection, especially the carry on-sized Allpa 35 Liter pack. A certified B Corp, Cotopaxi supports grassroots organizations around the world working towards poverty alleviation. They use leftover fabric scraps to make their eclectic Del Día designs to reduce waste!

For a smaller day bag, check out Ethnotek’s Cyclo Travel Sling. Their Thread designs are sourced from artisans and weavers around the world - you can pick your colors straight from Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia and Vietnam! They seek to boost these artists economically while simultaneously celebrating and sharing vibrant culture through patterns. Bags are vegan, socially responsible, and water resistant. What else could a Venturer ask for?

If you just need a solid purse for everyday at home or on the road, Looptworks Alaska Airlines Knox Bucket Bag has our hearts a-flutter. The luxurious material comes from airplane seat covers! We can’t resist a classic bag that has traveled thousands of miles AND is the perfect size for everyday adventures!

If you’re less of a backpack purist, and you’re happy to wage war on plastic waste, check out the Hamilton Perkins Collection’s Earth Bag duffel. Another B Corps, HPC’s bags are each made up of 17.5 recycled plastic bottles, with a liner made of old billboard vinyl! They also support fair wages and best practices for textile manufacturing.  

Other

Who has two thumbs and is guilty of shoving toiletries and makeup in the same grimy gallon plastic bag? This author is! Even though I reuse bags a few times, they’re neither good for the planet nor good for my travel stress levels. In other words, it’s time to invest in a Dopp kit! These are durable, sustainable and straight up classy!

Topo Designs Dopp Kit is made in the U.S. and has a lifetime warranty. In addition to being handmade in Colorado, they also come in a combination of funky prints and colors. They have a kit for any style!

The Crest Trail Case by United By Blue is stain resistant, and has a handy outside pocket for easy access to nail clippers and contacts cases that love to disappear under everything else.

The black tee is my travel secret to success. Dress it up, dress it down, match it to every outfit, and they never get dirty! (...subjectively.) Looptworks Upcycled V-Neck Tees are made from excess material, turning a pound of fabric destined for the landfill into your new favorite travel outfit.

At the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re enjoying your time abroad. The last thing you want to do is waste time shuffling through your bags, trying to find something. These items will make sure you’re spending less time stressing over getting organized, and spending more time enjoying your travels!

How Travel Fuels your Career

How Travel Fuels your Career

We are excited to announce a collaboration with Pivot Journeys, an organization that offers experiences for career growth and development. Both Venture with Impact and Pivot Journeys strongly believe that international travel can have a positive impact on your career, whether you are negotiating your role or trying to figure out what comes next. With that in mind, we are sharing an inspiring post by Pivot Journeys, "How Travel Fuels your Career". So pack your laptop to work and travel inspired by the world around you. Your career will thank you!


You’ve scoped out flight options.
You’ve spent hours looking at travel blogs for info on international travel.
You’ve looked at your calendar to think about how a month abroad would fit in your schedule.
You’ve talked to your friends, family, maybe even a random stranger about your secret wish of taking a month off to live abroad somewhere new and exotic. 

But is this the right next step for you? Will a month abroad really help you grow in your professional life?

Yes, it will. 

As someone who’s traveled a bunch in between jobs and life transitions, I’m well aware of the benefits travel provides. Many of those benefits are directly applicable to your professional development. 

So how exactly does international travel actually fuel your career growth? Here are just a few reasons.

A Physical & Mental Reset
When you work in a stressful position or work long hours, it takes a toll on your ability to think clearly, strategically, and productively. There’s a reason the most common advice people give you before a big meeting or interview is to ‘get a good night’s sleep.’ 

If you want to be presented with opportunities or take initiative to be a leader, your work product has to be top notch. And you don’t produce great work when you’re tired. If you’re burned out you’re less productive, make more mistakes and probably aren’t very fun to work with. 

We’re all human. We all need to reset mentally, physically and emotionally at various times. There should be no shame in that. And while a staycation can be great for some R&R, a month-long trip allows you to break away for a longer time to really reset. 

New Experiences, Creativity, Opportunities & Ideas
Once you’re more rested, your energy comes back not just for what you routinely have to do, but for creativity, exciting ideas and opportunities. You might even stumble upon new experiences that you might not have considered before – especially being in a new, energizing environment like a foreign city.

Bill Gates used to take himself into nature for a week to get away from daily distractions to do some big-picture thinking for Microsoft – he called these weeks Think Weeks. What would happen if you took a month to do some big-picture thinking for yourself? What new ideas, thoughts, important realizations, or reflections for a career transition or for your work might you have?!

Plus, happy people stumble upon opportunities – personal and professional. Studies have even found that being in a good mood boosts creativity and problem-solving abilities. Being open and ready for growth and opportunity is a critical part of career success.
Connections are Deep & Meaningful

Ask anyone who’s built a meaningful career what one of the most important factors was in their success and they’ll point to their network and connections. 
Whether you’re looking for a job, building a business, or trying to excel in your current position, the people you know are critical to your growth. 

Networking is an essential part of career success. Whether you’re talking with a stranger on a bus, or sharing a room with a person you’ve just met, you’re building relationships and networking.

Plus, whether you’re traveling with friends, or new connections, your bond is usually stronger and deeper as a result. Getting stranded in an airport, experiencing an adrenaline pumping experience like skydiving, or finding yourself dancing through the streets of a small European town at 2AM is sure to cultivate rich, meaningful relationships that might prove to be valuable in your career either now or later. (If those examples seem too specific, it’s because they are! Ask me sometime and I’ll tell you all the opportunities that emerged as a result of those travel experiences.)

Science Proves It
Ok, but why travel internationally specifically?
International travel provides an environment rich for growth. Part of the reason you get new ideas while on vacation is because your brain is literally changing and growing.

Scientists have confirmed that new sights, sounds, tastes and experiences increase neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s way of creating new connections and pathways for thinking. Being in a new environment increases neuroplasticity – and the more exotic or different than your everyday routine the better. It’s like strength training for your brain!
Career success depends on staying sharp and strategic. It also depends on your ability to interact with many different stakeholders and find common ground on differences. There’s nothing like international travel to stretch your comfort zone and build muscle (hey the brain is a muscle!). 

When you’re lost in a foreign city and don’t speak the language, you’re put to the test of figuring out how to find your way home. If you can figure that out, suddenly handling technical difficulties with a client isn’t as stressful. You’ve trained for this situation!
Travel provides a whole host of benefits you might not even notice but are definitely good for your brain, not to mention your soul!  

Your Career Aligns With Your Life Goals
Often it’s when we take a step back that we really see clearly what’s important to us. There’s something about being submersed in other cultures and landscapes that makes us see our own life differently and clearer.  And when we know what’s important to us and why, we consider how it fits into what we do Monday through Friday from 9-5 (if not beyond!). 

Maybe you realize that you want your back burner creative project to be more than just a side hustle. Maybe you get clarity that your passion for sustainability, or education, or women’s rights is something you can and want to work towards in your daily work. One of the great things about volunteering aboard is that it gives you an opportunity to test out what it’s like to work in a different environment, and maybe one that more closely aligns with your passions. And, if you decide to make a career transition as a result of the experience, you have an authentic and great story to tell about why and how you knew this was the right move for you. 

As a career coach I work with lots of people in lots of different fields of work. I can definitively say that those who work on something that closely aligns with their personal goals and values find so much more meaning in their work and are more successful in the long run than those who view a job as something completely separate from their personal life. 

If you want to love what you do, it probably needs to align with who you are as a person and what you value. And there’s nothing like international travel to help you identify what you value and fuel your passions into a meaningful career. 

So book that ticket. 
Buy that Lonely Planet book.
And start packing. 

 

10 Remote Work Fields In-Demand Now (Infographic)

10 Remote Work Fields In-Demand Now (Infographic)

Many people shy away from the idea of transitioning to nomadic work because they think that their area of expertise wouldn’t be compatible with remote work positions. Think again! In this day and age you can find pretty much any type of job in any corner of the globe. The world of remote work is becoming increasingly popular and the demand for talented and travel-loving professionals is ever growing. Knowing what in-demand fields to explore and where to look is key.

Top Reasons Lisbon Should Be on Your Remote Work Destination List

Top Reasons Lisbon Should Be on Your Remote Work Destination List

Lisbon, Portugal is fast becoming a hotspot for digital nomads and even corporate escapists. While not as famous on the tourist route as its glamorous counterparts, Lisbon is one of western Europe’s sunniest and prettiest cities and home to great historical sites– making it an ideal place to work remotely.

Make the Most of Your Career Transition – Volunteer your Skills Abroad and Develop Professionally

Make the Most of Your Career Transition – Volunteer your Skills Abroad and Develop Professionally

The term “volunteering” is often associated with a ‘hard work, no pay’ set up – this could not be further from the truth. While giving is at the core of volunteering, volunteers reap benefits as well. Skills-based volunteering, also know as pro bono, brings new experiences, from learning a new language to exploring new locales. More importantly, there is a whole range of skills that can be gained from this brand of volunteering, which can significantly benefit professional development.

Enabling Medellín

Enabling Medellín

Venturer, Lindsay Chandler, speaks about her experience with Enable Medellin through the Venture with Impact program this past November.

Why ‘Venture’ Abroad?

Why ‘Venture’ Abroad?

For many, fulfillment stems from the monetary value of their career. Success is equated to the amount they’ve earned, saved and invested. Others find comfort by following their passion. When looking at the bigger picture, however, some find it essential to contribute to a cause larger then themselves.

Top Cities for Working Remotely in 2018 (Infographic)

Top Cities for Working Remotely in 2018 (Infographic)

If you’re planning to work remotely in 2018, and want to immerse yourself on a completely different environment and culture, here are some of the top cities for working remotely, straight from the remote work team of Venture with Impact.

Chiang Mai: 5 Can't-Miss Highlights!

Chiang Mai: 5 Can't-Miss Highlights!

Venture with Impact is expanding to Thailand in 2018! Read about 5 can't-miss highlights of spending time in our host city, Chiang Mai.

Meet Venturer Cortney Lhota

Meet Venturer Cortney Lhota

A foodie traveler, Cortney is looking forward to sharing her expertise through skills-based volunteering and putting her taste buds to the test this November in Medellín through Venture with Impact's workation program.

Online Courses for Digital Nomad Professionals

Online Courses for Digital Nomad Professionals

Professionals working remotely or seeking a digital nomad lifestyle may find themselves lacking certain skills. Here are a variety of options to take flexible online courses to amp up different areas! Whether you are working, volunteering or balancing the two, these options can give you a boost.

Meet Venturer Carly Thurman

Meet Venturer Carly Thurman

Carly Thurman describes her interest in Venture with Impact, and how she plans to use skills based volunteering to further her knowledge in fair trade and work with local entrepreneurs.

Staying Productive While You Venture

Staying Productive While You Venture

Productivity advice for working remotely around the world from Jessica Yubas: veteran digital nomad, remote work advocate and location independent lifestyle coach, and author of Go Remote School’s newest online course, “How to Be a Productive Remote Worker While Traveling.”

The Truth behind Remote Work Myths

The Truth behind Remote Work Myths

Whether you work from home, internationally, or with a global team, there are many common misconceptions about remote work. I’ve gone ahead and broken down some of the top myths about the field to shed some light on the true world of remote workers and some of the under-appreciated benefits.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jennifer Tanner

Volunteer Spotlight: Jennifer Tanner

Today we're highlighting the work of our past Trujillo, Peru program volunteer Jennifer Tanner and looking at the positive social impacts she's helped to generate on both local and global levels.