10 Things I’ve learned from working at TECHO so far

About the Central Office in general:

1. What is supposed to be an hour commute to work everyday is easily shortened to just under 40 minutes when you take into account the rapid stops and quick accelerations of both the METRO and the Micro as they maneuver like all the rest of the drivers here in Chile. I’ve learned that this is not something I will get used too and requires my full attention just to stay standing.

2. The workers at TECHO are all young, energetic and enthusiastic as indicated by the sometimes extremely exhausting long hours and the minimal immediate rewards. And they don’t do it for the money, often working overtime while getting paid in salary not hourly.

3. However, it is common that those exhausting hours can burn you out! Many leave the job after a couple years of work because it is just too strenuous. It is work that is most appropriate for youthful disposition.

4. Everyone who works in the office is treated like they’re special, meaningful and important. A large, gong-like bell is rang so everyone knows to gather in the center of the office when it is time to sing someone happy birthday or give them farewell speeches when they are leaving their position, both accompanied by presents and balloons.

5. Dress code is casual, making it much easier to dress for the cold weather rather than having to worry about dressing formally. (Except special occasions of course) Note* I still lack the ability to dress appropriately for the cold often leaving me shivering with purple lips, not fun.

Specific to my area, Area Social de Proyectos (ASP):

6.These are the liaisons between the poor people that TECHO works with and the government who provides the homes; they are essential for smooth business interactions demanding the use of their excellent social skills.

7. This double agent work requires a level of professionalism as well as an ability to be personable. Both relationships seem to be very good; the people of the campamentos seem to respect and are also respected by the workers at TECHO creating a pleasant atmosphere for collaboration.

8. Driving is necessary and for the most part far, add to that the heavy amounts of city traffic (also known as “taco” – learned that one early on) and a working radio is critical. Because ASP are the liaisons they must drive to communities to work with people almost everyday typically spending the mornings in the office and the afternoons in the field making for especially long days.

9. Each community requires a team of leaders including a president, secretary, treasurer ect. who are the main communicators for the campamentos and meet with people from ASP frequently. Each employee of TECHO is assigned to roughly 3 or 4 communities which allows them to have consistency and build lasting and sustainable relationships with the leaders of the communities which is important for them to envision a brighter future with concrete changes and improvements being made.  

10. While the workers at TECHO work long, exhausting, strenuous and sometimes what seem like never ending days, they always emphasize that weekends and nights are meant for relaxing and being with friends and family always encouraging me to explore the city and have a good time while I’m here! 

Of course I have learned a plethora of things from observing, interacting and spending time in the office and out in the field besides these 10 but these are what I have found to be most applicable and most telling about the employees of the organization. 

This is the unreal view I see everyday on the METRO, even on a rainy day it’s gorgeous! 



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