One way tickets
I remembered jokingly telling my friend that I might not be coming back to Seattle after India because I only have a one way ticket here. I thought that this program would teach me how to find a problem and maybe help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After that, I would take what I learned back to Seattle.
This past week, we have had meetings with several people to help us with our project. One of them was Akshay who created the project that led to the start of Hasiru Dala Innovation five years ago. He was there to help us with the business model for Hasiru Batte. Throughout the meeting, he emphasized the importance of deep engagement with the customers in order to change their behavior. Another person was Dhawal who started an organization called Green Stitch where he organized clothing swap events for people to exchange their clothes. He hopes to make a large enough impact on his customers that it will have them wanting to start their own swap.
Both of these mentors made me question if we are leaving any sort of impact on people. So far, we have been going door to door, handing out flyers, trying to teach residents to separate their dry waste from their clothing waste. But we weren’t getting the same amount of passion back for our effort. I can’t help to wonder if we are doing something completely wrong with our collection approach. Will anyone care about this project after we leave? Will the waste pickers even be able to collect any clothes? Dhawal, who came to the door to door collection with us, noticed the different ways that the residents interact with us and the waste pickers. There are so many questions that still need to answered and I can’t help feeling like I am abandoning all these people that we tried to help.
Day by day I get closer to accepting that this project might not work but I remember that I am probably in the “This sucks and I am an idiot” phase. I don’t want to just move on with this last week and turn in all our deliverables so I travel around for a couple weeks before heading back to Seattle. I don’t want to have this simply be some stories I tell to all my friends about what happened in India, or something I put on my resume. I want to be able to tell people that I engaged people deeply and made them realize something they hadn’t before.
Maybe someday I do want to come back to work on this Grand Challenge after I finish everything.
Maybe that’s going to be a one way ticket.