Money can’t Buy

by Dual Income No Kids on January 22, 2008 · 0 comments

Hi Folks,

I just wanted to respond to a number of comments that I’ve received over the past months since I’ve been in Afghanistan.

Many of our readers seem to feel that I’m in Afghanistan only for the money and that my values are focused only on the bottom line. While it is true that James & I have a finance blog and that we enjoy personal finance and blogging as a hobby, my sole focus in life is certainly not money.

Another thing to set straight is that most people working in Afghanistan in development are not there for the money. I can’t speak for security folks, as these guys sometimes don’t even know they are in Asia. (Only one case study from Kansas to prove this point! ;-)

While it is true that working in Afghanistan gives extra money for danger pay, on a day to day basis this doesn’t mean squat. Most of us don’t even concern ourselves with money since our budgets are rather streamline. There are more important things in Afghanistan to worry about. This means that there might be more in our accounts, but it’s not like earning more money affects our lifestyle. It actually works against us, as our lifestyles are diminished in ways by being in Afghanistan – but also enhanced in ways that most would find hard to conceive.

All the people I’ve met in Afghanistan, myself included, are passionate about what we do and enjoy working in another culture. Living and working in a place like Afghanistan is not to be taken lightly. It’s not for wusses and no amount of money would make it worth living there if it weren’t for a passion for living in other cultures.

For me this experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity that came at a very good time in our lives. While my job in Washington afforded me the chance to travel about four to five times a year, this isn’t the same as living in another culture. After five years in the states, both my professional and personal needs were pointing overseas.

Before this opportunity came up I had gone through a series of career coaching sessions and had worked with James to identify what next in our lives. When the job opportunity in Afghanistan came up it allowed for me to live overseas and still be able to see James for seven to ten weeks out of the year. This allowed me to fulfill my career aspirations while James is finishing his doctorate. Were I to wait until he is done with his doctorate I would be either pushing the possibility of children to later in life or foregoing my career passions.

The job itself is also a perfect match. I’m currently the Study Abroad Manager and get to lead faculty members on study abroad programs in Southeast Asia for about a third of the year. In college I couldn’t have dreamed up a better job for me. Afghanistan might not be for everyone, but for me it is.

It’s not about the money but the adventure in life. During my college years I saved ever penny I could on college tuition and spent any extra on traveling as often as I could. There are some things money can’t buy, and one of those is passion and desire to travel. People thought I would grow out of the travel bug with time but that just hasn’t happened yet. Money I can get when I’m old, but the opportunity to travel and explore the world is irreplaceable.

I know some of you might not give a hoot what I’m doing in Afghanistan but I figured it might be helpful to provide some more context for those who are interested.

Safe Travels,

Miel

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