James Williams is a bit envious, and he’s not afraid to admit it.
The fourth-year associate at Davis Wright Tremaine has plans to travel to Rwanda later this year to volunteer on a community project there. He’s hoping to take two weeks off to do it.
That’s compared to the entire three months off Myles Solomon managed to get from his small San Francisco shop to volunteer in Uganda and Tanzania.
“I definitely am envious of him in terms of taking those three months off,” he told Legal Pad. In fact, he admits to being just a wee bit jealous even of some of his friends who’ve been offered two thirds of their salary to leave their firms for a year. They agonize over the decision, he says. He thinks he wouldn’t. “In a perfect world, you take it and you have an adventure,” he said.
Alas, the world is far from perfect.
After the jump: Living in an imperfect world.
“In a perfect world I’d be a basketball player,” he said. Still, if he gets the two weeks off, that’s perfect enough. “I think it’s not so much that I’m in a position that I wish I could [disappear for three months] but didn’t, I’m actually doing what I want to do.”
Williams says in reality he probably wouldn’t ask for three months off for his volunteer work, anyway. His goal is to build one sustainable water well in a village in Rwanda. He’s been able to do a lot of the preliminary work — getting contacts for drillers and community leaders, for instance — right from Davis Wright’s San Francisco office. He thinks two weeks will be enough to finish the job.
He and a few friends hooked up with a Los Angeles-based nonprofit with experience in water infrastructure. Through it, he has pulled together about 12 leaders in Rwanda to put their heads together, including the chief of the village, a local women’s leader and the head of agriculture.
They plan to show up for the physical work this fall. “We don’t want to just send money,” he said. “I would expect to be shoveling, helping put bricks down, laying the foundation down for the well, helping leveling it.”
— Petra Pasternak