Why the world is awesome.
Why the world is awesome.
I’m not sure how to effectively write a blog to completely explain what the community of CrisisCamp and CrisisCommons have meant to me and my life. In my head I’ve written this blog a million times. Sometimes its really long. Sometimes its really short. But each time I explain my heartfelt thanks to everyone who believes and all those who have contributed to the movement. Because that’s what we were apart of. A movement to change the way disaster response is done. We wanted to connect the right information at the right time and place. We wanted to make and impact. And we did — in so many ways.
So its kind of bittersweet to say farewell because its not like I’m leaving my friendships and all of the great people who I now call my digital family. Its just time to past the reins on to a super smart team who will shape what CrisisCommons can be in the future. It’s the right time. It’s been almost three years since CrisisCamp came to be in my life. But my interest in connecting technology and humanitarian relief and crisis management extended well before then. I would say it was around 2007 when I started thinking about how to make those connections. If you would read my essays trying to go to graduate school (in my late 30s), you would find that I was asking for time to explore that connectivity. Little did I know a few years later I wouldn’t just be writing about it, I was doing it. We were learning. We failed. We had successes. We did so much together. I’m not sure this blog has enough places to list all of the amazing moments and the great things that happened.
But alas, this fall I’ve decide to start to shift to work on a few new projects and am stepping down from my roles at CrisisCommons and CrisisCamp. My heart is heavy but its been almost three years since we began this journey. Just last week I began a new chapter in my life as I moved to Paris. In a way me being here has a lot to do with my experience over the last few years. I’m confident in the great people on the interim team and know they will do great things.
I have a lot of gratitude to all the people who have believed and have helped along the way. I can’t list everyone here because there would be hundreds of people but just know that it was a group effort. And today, it still is that way. Nothing is ever one person. There is a lot of truth in the phrase, “it takes a village.” In our case, it was a global village. People pitching in from all over the world. It’s funny, there was someone who early on told me that, “you can’t do this by yourself, you need someone who has done this before.” He was very insistent about it. I think about that a lot these days. I’m not sure if he was right or wrong. You can’t go through an experience like this and not learn things. I’ve learned a lot. I am still very passionate about the concept of how people can support crisis management and humanitarian relief efforts by donating their skills, time and talents. I’m not sure where that passion will take me next. I’ll still interested in how brands engage in communities as well. So there might be a bit of both in store for me in the future.
I didn’t want this to be too long. But I wanted to share with you guys how much I appreciated everyone’s support and how grateful I have been to work with everyone to help advance what we all know is the future of crisis management and humanitarian relief.
For me the journey of this American in Paris was perhaps a bittersweet one. It wasn’t something I particularly planned on but in a way, if I think back, I might have been preparing for this for quite a while. I could go back to the Parisian day planner I had when I was a freshman in high school. Maybe it was the choice of language (French) I decided to study and clubs like AFS that I belonged to while also in high school. Perhaps it is from that one year I wanted to live abroad in 1992 or that book about the Paris in the Fifties by Stanley Karnow.Then there was my 2007 trip to England to visit LSE, Oxford and Nottingham where two of the three program directors I met said, “You don’t need a degree from my program. It won’t do anything for you. The students here are hoping to get a job doing what you do already.” I left that trip a bit baffled.
I remember from that 2007 trip telling the directors that I wanted to write about my ideas. I wanted a chance to be in an environment to learn from others and have an experience outside of America. Little did I know I would not only fulfill those wishes but learn like I had never before. I saw a movement grow from a simple idea. I felt what social entrepreneurialism is – the good, the bad and the not so great part about it. I was able to contribute my ideas and collaborate with some of the most awesome people in the world.
So when I think about how I am sitting here today in Paris, it seems kind of like the ending from Under A Tuscan Sun (or perhaps the beginning of Eat. Pray. Love) when Diane Lane’s character had wished for certain things and someone pointed them out that she already had everything she wanted. After that, the movie ends with this reflection:
They say they built the train tracks over the Alps before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway. They knew one day the train would come. Any arbitrary turning along the way, and I would be elsewhere. I would be different.
So maybe a lot of things needed to happen to get me here at this time and place. But I’m here, in a place where, maybe I was supposed to be all along. Who knows. It was interesting today I thought a lot about this when I met my colleagues here at orientation. We all had our on story of why we decided to be in Paris this year. We all come at it from a different angle and I’m sure we will all have a different experience based on what we put into the program.
I’ve been thinking of what I want to get out of this year. I think it comes down to a few thoughts, which as perhaps simple (yet hard) goals:
If I do just one of those that would be a big win. The degree is almost ancillary. It will be nice to have, I’d like to share what I’ve learned but you can’t do that without a Masters. So its punching the ticket. Doing the work and moving on. But it takes a bunch of your time to focus on it. So I guess at 39 I’ll be finally wrapping that up.
So through whatever time continuum got me here, I’m happy to be here.