Charles Goldsmith, MBA '82
Making the leap: Professional budget analyst joins the Peace Corps
In the job he left behind, serving the Montgomery County, Maryland, Office of Management and Budget for more than eight years, Goldsmith's primary responsibilities involved evaluating the operating and capital budget requests of the county school system, which represents about one-half of the county's budget. "There was always great interest in knowing the status of their spending during the course of the fiscal year given the size of their budget," he noted. "I would prepare recommendations and studies for the review of the County Executive and also report on the budgetary decisions of the County Council."
Now, Goldsmith and his wife are drawing on their professional expertise in their work for CIATEQ (Centro de Investigación y Asistencia Técnica del Estado de Querétaro, or the Center for Research and Technical Assistance of the State of Querétaro). CIATEQ is a branch of the Mexican government agency CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, or the National Council for Science and Technology). "An important new task of [CIATEQ] is the transfer of technology developed in the center to business and society," Goldsmith says. "Our focus will be on helping CIATEQ to define its technology transfer practices. My wife is working on a marketing plan that will promote the center's technology services in the Mexican aeronautics industry and is currently researching opportunities in that area. I am supporting the effort to refine the financial performance indicators that are part of CIATEQ's balanced scorecard."
Why the Peace Corps? Goldsmith and his wife had "traveled extensively for both business and pleasure, but wanted to know another country more deeply than is possible on a vacation or business trip," he says. "We had both reached a point in our careers and personal life that allowed us to leave our jobs, rent out our house, and make the leap. The Peace Corps offered us an opportunity to both live abroad and make a contribution to the host country. The Peace Corps Mexico program is unique in that it is tailored to individuals with some years of professional experience who are assigned to work with one of two Mexican government agencies, either CONACYT (the National Council for Science and Technology) or the Secretaría de Recursos Naturales y Medio Ambiente (SEMARNAT, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment). We thought this offered us a great chance to collaborate with Mexican professionals, improve our Spanish, and learn about life in our southern neighbor that does not get covered in U.S. newspapers."
What does it feel like to pack up for a completely different life in a new country, with a new job, home, language, and culture? "Perhaps the biggest challenge we face here is reestablishing our lives, both professionally and culturally, in another place and in another language," says Goldsmith. "We lived comfortably in Silver Spring, Maryland, and had an established circle of friends and activities. Giving it all up to start again in a new place is daunting when you do it within the U.S., but even more so when you're not familiar with the local customs and have to manage it all in a foreign language!"
To ease the transition, all Peace Corps Mexico volunteers live with host families during the first three months of their service, while they receive what is called pre-service training, Goldsmith says. "The purpose of this experience is to both integrate into the community and improve language skills. We both had supportive and gracious host families who facilitated our transition into daily life here. My host family, for example, helped us find an apartment in town and invited us to enjoy Christmas dinner with them."
The Goldsmiths' new life offers ample compensations, including their lively, beautiful new surroundings. "The city of Querétaro is the capital of the Mexican state of the same name," says Goldsmith. "It is located about three hours northwest of Mexico City by road. The city center of Querétaro was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. There are many beautiful plazas where there is always something going on - concerts, performances, dancing. The streets of Querétaro are kept very clean by workers dressed in orange jerseys with orange trash barrels posted in the downtown streets to sweep up. Some of the houses in the historic center need renovation, but others have already been remodeled as homes, restaurants, and hotels."
Learn more about Charles Goldsmith and his wife's daily life and experiences in the Peace Corps by visiting their blog at www.bendgold.wordpress.com. And while you're at it, think about this message from Charles: "The Peace Corps is encouraging applications from people with work experience to fulfill its mission around the world."