My career in global affairs started in 6th grade when I did a report about the depletion of the Amazon rain forest. It opened up my eyes to the world around me and led me to care about something bigger than myself. This expanded worldview made it so I was interested in what I could do to make the world a better place. When I met Robert Muller, a United Nations peace advocate, when I was in high school and learned about the field of peace and conflict resolution it connected a dot for me – that humans couldn’t care about protecting the environment if they couldn’t protect themselves. This exposure led me to study international affairs and peace and conflict resolution in college.
Understanding that I’d need more than my bachelor’s degree to get a job after college, I decided to pursue an internship to get real world experience. I was lucky enough to go to college where Mercy Corps, an awesome humanitarian development NGO, is headquartered – my hometown, Portland, Oregon. After interning with Mercy Corps, the third dot was connected – people couldn’t protect the environment if they couldn’t protect themselves not only from conflict, but also from deprivation and poverty. That was the final piece of the puzzle for me – in order to help make the world a better place, you need to help people have their basic needs met, including living in safety, and, at that point, they can care about the environment.
And that’s why I wrote Global: An Extraordinary Guide for Ordinary Heroes – I want to help other people have their “ah hah” moment or, if you’ve already had it, I want to help you put your passion into action. The world is such a big, fascinating place and I want to help people learn how they can work toward making it a better place. Change really does start with the individual and it really does start as soon as that is where your attention is directed.
I am fortunate to have spent the past 20 years traveling around the world working on issues that I’m passionate about and that, hopefully, help make individual’s lives better. We might not end all global poverty and suffering tomorrow, but that does not mean we shouldn’t try – or that we shouldn’t try to create positive change in individual’s lives. There’s a million and one ways to create positive change and now’s the time to start doing so. I further discuss this and the Rule of Law in another blog post.