Feeling at home with the VUCA culture

VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, changing and ambiguous. This term is commonly used in the business world, especially when it comes to collaborators skills development. Corporates demand employees to be trained to surf the VUCA reality.

Nayoung Lee and Pepe Macias

I am blind and I believe most people with disability were born naturally VUCA. There are very few inclusive societies where PwD can develop at full capacities. Therefore, being a minority – which most of the time is marginalized - we have to deal with volatile, uncertain, changing and ambiguous conditions.

But many times, we want to escape from our VUCA context. There are organizations – as DSE – making great efforts to achieve job inclusion for PwD. And most of the PwD I know – including myself – would be delighted to enjoy some job stability.

But there are always exceptions. I recently visited the Dialogue in the Dark venue in London. I spent some nice time with the blind guides there. Among the London guides there is Nayoung Lee from Seoul. This blind lady used to be a teacher in South Korea until she recently moved to London. In fact, she had worked as DiD guide in a temporary exhibition in Seoul back in 2008. Now she is back to DiD in London and talking with her was a great insight.

DSE: How was being a teacher in Seoul?

NL: “In South Korea there is the opportunity for blind people to become public education teachers. There is a law and the needed legal control, so companies and government entities have to employ people with disability. It means stability. You are employed by the government; you get a good salary and good pension. It is a job where you can spend all your life if you want.”

DSE: But despite this you moved to London.

NL: Well, as a teacher in South Korea I could not be creative. The educational system is rigid. Making changes there is not that easy. You don’t get a lot of support from colleagues. The system would love to get rid of us even though we pass the exams. However, it is a great mental and emotional pressure to ask for help all the time and feel pity from colleagues. Must of the people with disability just continue and try to find some meaning to what they do. But I am a creative and curious person. Furthermore, I love traveling. As a teacher I was able to travel only during summer holidays.”

DSE: So, I understand you were feeling limited in your country.

NL: Absolutely. That is why I decided to spend my savings and come to London to study. It was a big difficult decision for me. My parents weren’t happy about it. They wanted stability for me as a blind woman. But I didn’t want that stability at that price. I wasn’t happy being a teacher. I was pushed to that option in order to achieve life stability.

DSE: And what do you do in London?

NL: Guiding at DiD is fascinating for me. I meet a lot of new people and I feel creative. Furthermore, in London I have access to many cultural options such as concerts and museums and I love that.

DSE: What else do you want to do in London besides DiD?

NL: I have to restructure myself. I didn’t want to be a teacher. I think I would love to promote culture, maybe organizing cultural events for blind people. I love traveling and I would like to be involved on that too. I have not regret from my decision of coming to London. But I have to find my way here.

DSE: What was your last trip?

NL: One week ago, I took the Eurostar together with two more blind friends and went to Belgium. It was fun. We visited Brussels and some other towns.

DSE: What is your strategy to travel as a blind person?

NL: “Not much of a strategy. The first step is to go out of home. The rest will come. Nowadays you can use your GPS accessible apps on your phone. And when you are with your cane in the street there is always someone to help you. But I would love to create a platform or a community to facilitate independent traveling for blind people. It is nice to travel with a sighted person. But sometimes we also want to travel by ourselves.”

DSE: how do you imagine that?

NL: “I am not sure. There is TravelingEyes in the UK. That is an organization who partner blind persons wanting to travel with sighted travelers. But there is something I don’t like in the way they operate. If the trip cost 200 pounds for both persons, the blind traveler will pay 130. So, you end up paying more as a person with disability.”

DSE: Sounds not that fair. Why don’t you look for a magazine to sponsor your trips and you write articles about it? I am sure a creative narrative from a blind traveler would be cool for sighted readers.

NL: I have to think about it but sounds like a good plan!

I was amazed to have this conversation with Nayoung. Often, I still assume that people with disability dream about jumping from their VUCA reality to job stability. And maybe it is true in many cases. However, people with disability are absolutely able to surf the VUCA world and still feel at home. Why not going beyond the boundaries of stability?