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Appreciating Life Outside of the Bowdoin Bubble

It’s easy to become so enveloped in our everyday lives that only our little bubbles, and only what goes on inside them, really seems important. In my middle school bubble, for instance, wearing flip flops to the Valentine’s Day dance was what was really, really important. Now, my bubble probably looks a lot like many of yours  — school, social life, etc etc. You get the point. But it’s always a good reminder to know that our bubbles are actually far greater and far more impacting than we know them truly to be. It just takes something or someone to show us that we are powerful and more effective in the world than maybe we ever imagined before.

 
It might not be up to the big Politicians, or even the President, or NGO’s to make changes. In fact, I have become aware that the most change can come from a simple idea.

Over Christmas break, I became absorbed and obsessed with watching TED Talks. Basically, they are a collection of highly brilliant, inspiring and interesting people with ideas and theories to re-design the way we think about the world. I clicked on a link titled “Poverty, Money –and Love”  given by Jessica Jackley. For twenty minutes, I listened to her story unfold: how she graduated from college without any real governing direction, how she ended up attending a lecture given by Dr. Muhammad Yunis on microfinance, and how her life’s path changed directly thereafter.

 

 She moved to Uganda, spent around a year researching how microfinance and small-scale entrepreneurism can work to end poverty — in a tangible way that acknowledges that “the poor” is not an amorphous group, but people with dignity who just need a little boost to free themselves retributive economic systems. She and her co-founder started kiva.org which provided anybody the chance to supply small-scale loans to entrepreneurs across the world. The success of the website is astronomical, now transferring $200 million loans in the last year — with only future growth to come.
 
I probably talked about Kiva and Jessica Jackley for two days straight to my mom after watching the speech. I mean, how cool is it that this girl’s idea a) is awesome and b) is actually impacting people across the globe to make their lives better.
 
Then – the unbelievable happened: Jessica Jackley came to speak at Bowdoin. I freaked out. People I talked to didn’t really understand why I was acting gaga like a teeny-bopper for the Jonas Bros. The speech she delivered was amazing and went into further detail about her journey starting Kiva and her journey since.
 
What was even more amazing? She was a young adult, much like all of us, who did something for the world to truly make it a better place. Seeing her behind the podium reinforced the reality that each and every one of us can be great, but even more importantly, do great. It makes me wonder if we, universally speaking, give too much responsibility and accountability to politics, government, and major organizations to solve the problems of the world. In Jackley’s case, her idea solves a problem for people across geo-political boundaries, and involves people across these geo-political boundaries to be the answer. Perhaps the ideas from the private sector are the kind the world most needs — or that your state, or your town, or your school — most needs: ideas that are liberated from machinations of tradition and expectation.
 
I leave you with the wise words of Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
 
Jessica Jackley did it, can you?
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