Much has changed since that Saturday. Two team members no longer work for IBM. Two team member have gotten married (not to each other). One team member has become a mom. Two team members have moved to different countries. Calbuco , the volcano that many of my team members climbed in 2014, erupted again in 2015. Perhaps most importantly ONG Canales, the organization I worked with, continues to grow and thrive.
Canales is now 4 years old. In 4 short years Canales has expanded its reach into 3 regions of Southern Chile. They are working with technical schools and have impacted the lives of many teachers and students. I wish I could say that I was an important part of their success, but they did that all on their own. I'm just grateful that for 4 weeks they let me be a part of their team. I continue to wear my Canales jacket with pride (although it is getting a bit worn out).
Over the last month some of my Chile 5 team members have shared a few of their CSC memories on Facebook. It is nice that a portion of the team remains in touch via social media. It was fun to reminisce about our experiences in Puerto Montt. I suspect that over time we will do less and less of that.
As I reminisced about my time in Puerto Montt it occurred to me that upon returning from my assignment I actually went thru the 5 stages of grief - much like one does when they lose a close family member or a friend - although I'm not sure I went thru them in the traditional order. I guess in some ways this grief makes sense because for 4 weeks my team mates were like my family and Puerto Montt was my home.
When I left Puerto Montt I was definitely in denial. I refused to believe that the team would just go back to life as it was before we came to Puerto Montt. I thought the friendships we forged would not diminish just because we left Chile. When I realized that was not the case I moved into a bargaining stage. I told myself that team members will come visit me or I will visit them or we would have occasional reunions via Skype or maybe even in person. As day 365 approached I created a video of the team's CSC experience. When I posted the video on day 365 it wasn't received with the excitement I anticipated and I moved into an anger stage. Anger moved into depression. How could an experience I thought was so great just seem like another business trip to others? Finally, I moved into the acceptance stage. I realized that CSC was just a job and the friendships made during that 4 week assignment were not much different than the friendships I made in as a child, or student in college, or a new hire at IBM. While I don't consider many of those friendships to be over, they also are not very active. So is the case with my CSC family.
I still have hopes of visiting several of my CSC team members again. I still have hopes of returning to Puerto Montt again. I still care about Canales. I still care about the friends I made in Puerto Montt. But hopes are just hopes. They are not expectations. If none of these things happen that is fine. I at least had my 4 week CSC experience. It was an experience of a lifetime. An experience I plan to never forget.