Today at Global Kids, as part of an orientation for new staff members, we did an exercise where we had to draw a visual map that represented five incidents or moments in our lives that led us to come to Global Kids. Here’s the map that I drew.
It starts in the upper right corner, which represents me in grade school in small town Pleasanton, California. At the time, I felt like the only "foreign" kid among a mostly white student body, the kid who was from a country that nobody had ever heard of, who ate different foods, spoke a different language, who didn’t fit in. It was mostly a fearful and anxiety-filled time for me.
This early experience led me to have compassion for outsiders of various stripes later in life, whether it be refugees from Guatemala or homeless vets in Los Angeles.
This was just the beginning of my circuitous journey that led me to work at Global Kids…
The next waypoint on my personal map was a trip that my family took to Europe in 1983. We drove all over Western Europe, from Germany to Switzerland, Austria, France, and Italy. I loved all the strange languages and sights and flavors we encountered and wanted to explore more after that. Since then, I’ve traveled widely to most corners of the world — from Madras to Porto Alegre — and I have that same hunger to explore more and meet more kinds of folk.
The next pivotal moment in my life on my map was in March 1991, when I led a small group of college students from UCLA to Tijuana, Mexico to build houses in a poor community there for Habitat for Humanity. It was a very fulfilling experience for me to organize on my own this little humanitarian trip and see it through to successful completion.
From 1994 to 2005, I worked for various NGOs at the United Nations, bringing together my passion for human rights and human dignity, my desire to travel and experience other cultures, and my skills as an organizer.
The final marker in my Global Kids map was when I first created my avatar in Second Life in May 2006. I originally was going to draw a computer connected to other computers, but I realized that really what Second Life is about is people connecting with other people via their computers.
So all of these experiences — from my initial personal experience of being the outsider, to my early exposure to other cultures, my initial non-profit organizing, then working at the UN and exploring Second Life — all in their own ways were instrumental in me finding my way to my current position as Second Life Producer and Program Associate in the Online Leadership Program at Global Kids.
It’s been a wonderful and weird ride. And I’m so grateful to find myself here.