Western International

Michele Parkin

Participant Name: Michele Parkin

Michele Parkin

Department: Office of Faculty Relations
Position: Director

Leave for Change

Position:  Organizational Development Consultant – organization unknown
Country and Place of Assignment:  Malawi, Africa
Dates:  January/February 2016

What motivated you to apply for Leave for Change?

I like to do things that make a positive difference in the world.  When Douglas Keddy and Frank Miller returned from Vietnam and told their stories, I decided I wanted to apply.

What do you hope to share with your host?

My assignment is to analyze and recommend compensation and gender equity practices in the tea industry in Malawi. I will be working with 21 tea companies through the Tea Association of Malawi (TAML), in all areas of production and processing. I think my education, skills and experience in law, business, human resources, and labour relations will enable me to provide useful advice and some assistive tools. I also hope that we can further each-other’s cultural understanding, which in my view contributes to building bridges of friendship in the name of world peace.

In preparing for you mandate, what has surprised you?

I am in early stages of preparation, but I am amazed how much I learned in a few hours of internet research. I was also pleasantly surprised by how thorough (and fun) the Leave for Change orientation weekend was. I actually got to spend time with a Malawian living in Canada who answered all kinds of questions about what I could expect.

What do you think you will gain personally from this experience?

Every time I travel, I change and grow.  It’s not just trying new foods and seeing different cultural practices, it is about deepening my understanding of people in ways that makes me more compassionate and broad-minded. 

What do you hope to bring back to Western from your experience?

I hope to encourage others to broaden their global experiences and to understand that no matter what their skill set is, they can contribute to making a positive difference in the world.

What do you think your biggest challenge will be?

Coming home.  Seriously, once I get seeing the world, I want to travel to the edges and see, do and learn all I can.