On December 6, 2014, I decided to take the plunge and write my first blog. Friends and colleagues had urged me to do it for a year or more, but I wasn’t sure I had a voice or a message that anyone would care about.
Well, this is my 200th blog post, and it’s been a great time! I have found an amazing community of writers from all over the world, and while I’ve shared my knowledge, I’ve gained far more from them in return!
Today’s post comes from one I read recently, written by Deb Helfrich, that concerns global goals, and some of the reasons we see that as such a daunting task. It spoke to me, and I hope you’ll read it and perhaps see why I’m using it as my springboard for #200.
We’re all caught in our own lives, trying to work, eat, play, raise a family, volunteer, sleep, save for retirement — the list is endless and exhausting for many. It’s hard to know where to even start! What on earth can WE do that will make a difference to anyone, especially on a global level?
Deb’s post reminded me of a simple story about saving one starfish at a time, and the difference that made to each starfish that was saved. You can read that story here. And the starfish story started me on a journey back through time to a much different life, where my family did indeed make a difference, at least to five young people we were privileged to know.
In the early 1980s, my husband and I made the decision to take foreign exchange students into our home, into our life, for a full year. We already had two small daughters, but for many reasons, we decided to add another person — a foreign teenager — to our household. For a whole year. A teenager we hadn’t raised. A teenager who might not speak great English (those who didn’t learned quickly, especially by watching TV). And we spoke only English.
Our friends thought we were absolutely nuts.
We agreed but did it anyway.
Our goal was to give our daughters a wider world view than they would have by just living here in America. (Remember, this was before the Internet opened us all up to adventures with almost anyone on the planet!)
All in all, we took in five teens in six years, three girls and two boys, starting with a lovely girl from Uruguay (Elianne), then Paola from Switzerland, Mank from Sweden, Megumi from Japan, and David from Venezuela.
We learned from them, and they learned from us. We had our ups and downs. They were brave, often lonely, and sometimes scared, and yet determined to make the most of their time here in America. They went to high school in our small American town, they joined clubs at school, and they even had the fun of going to Disney World in Florida with us in our motor home!
So, did we change the entire world? No. But we did change our own lives, we did change the students’ lives, and we even changed the lives of those who came in contact with all of us during those years.
And there were thousands of other families doing the same thing, having similar experiences with teens from around the world. So if you add it all up, we at least helped.
We all became world citizens, at least in spirit.
And my family has benefited from our early adventures ever since. My oldest daughter traveled widely in her early 20s, living for a time in Thailand and backpacking throughout the region on her own for six months (no, I didn’t know about that until it was over). Now, along with her husband and young son, she is serving as a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department. Thanks to this, her son will truly be a world citizen!
My youngest daughter has also traveled, finding herself in Berlin shortly after the wall came down (I have a small piece of that wall). She and her husband are at ease no matter where they go.
I spent many years working internationally with Fred Pryor Seminars in the ’90s, presenting workshops in places such as the Philippines and South Africa, countries I had never expected to visit.
Would we have done these things without having opened our home to our students? Hard to know, but my best guess is no. But having those students in our home helped us all see the world as a wondrous place to explore.
LinkedIn and all the other Internet platforms have taken us much further than I could ever have imagined back then; to me, it’s a miracle. We get an insider’s perspective from places all around this tiny planet of ours. We see even more clearly how we must work together to preserve what we have — we’re all in this together.
Continued thanks to those who write on topics I know so little about! Our views on many things may be different, but I applaud your courage and commitment to showing us your world.
And thanks to everyone who reads, likes, and comments on my posts. I am grateful if I’ve reached your heart and mind on some subject, and that you’ve taken the time to let me know.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
I also look forward to your stories of global connections, global change, global goals. What have you done along these lines? What step do you plan to take?