Native Oregonian and Portland resident Jason George is jobless and traveling the world. Even better, he doesn’t really care.
It’s rare that you run across someone with the mental fortitude to shrug off something as traumatic as being laid off from his job one month into an epic, 12-month journey around the world.
He stares at me, unblinking, with a wide smile on his face as he nonchalantly says, “I haven’t found anything permanent yet, but there are jobs out there, so I’m hopeful.”
Consider that Jason is part of a program called Remote Year, where a $2,000 per month payment is required… for a full 12-months… and you can only marvel at how cool and calm his demeanor is.
Likely, his come-what-may attitude is a direct result of his logical approach to life, fed by his career as a software engineer. The fact is, Jason is one of those types of guys who could watch a nuke fall, then lean back in his chair to calmly assess the fallout.
Still, that doesn’t make him an emotionless automaton. In fact, he’s on an incredible journey looking for his mission. When asked what his purpose is, a full ten- to twenty-seconds passes as his eyes glaze over and he appears to look past me at something in the far off distance.
“I love volunteering,” he says after finding his thoughts. “I love helping people, giving back and trying to shape the future, but I haven’t figured out my unique way of doing that.”
He pauses again, to reach a little deeper before continuing.
“There are lots of things out there, but none of it is mine, or from me, it’s always been me participating in other programs.”
Part of Jason’s personal mission statement is to not only make an impact in volunteering, but to do so within the sphere of his next career move. It’s a desire that has made itself apparent in Jason’s past volunteerism.
As a tech guy through-and-through, Jason’s longest stint helping the community was in his work with the Oregon Robotic Tournament Outreach Program (ORTOP).
ORTOP’s mission is to inspire eight- and nine-year old kids to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math through a yearly robotics competition.
“I spent a lot of time volunteering for that and just kind of worked my way up until eventually I was the director of the program,” he explains. “Then, I got to the high school side where I actually had a high school robotics team that I was the coach and mentor for.”
In explaining his drive to spend so much of his personal time working with the program, Jason describes the satisfaction he got from “giving back to the next generation.”
So, once his fantastic year-long adventure is over, the burning question is whether Jason will complete his personal mission back home in the City of Roses.
“If do go back to the states, I am going to return to Portland,” he says without hesitation.
Although he laments the lack diversity in Portland, something he is getting plenty of during his time with Remote Year, it wouldn’t be enough to keep him away from home, should he decide that America is still the place for him.
“I’ve been all around the edges and most of the middle of America,” he says, “but still, to me, Portland is the best place to be.”
As an enterprising PDX Person, Portland would be well-served to have Jason George complete his mission right here, back home amidst the beauty of his hometown. Safe travels, Jason! We’ll see you next year (maybe)!
William Bessette – PDX People Contributor
William Bessette is a journalist and freelance writer who has been covering politics, entertainment, culture and travel for over thirteen years. When he’s not profiling Portland-area restaurants and residents, you can find him reporting on national and international travel and eco-tourism through his travel brand, Floppy Hat Adventures.