At 18 years old I traveled through 6 different countries in Africa, during which I stumbled upon the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Secondary School in Zimbabwe. The Head Master showed me around the school and through classrooms where I was able to have genuine conversations with students and teachers about their goals in life and how education played a very important role in their future success.
It left me speechless how devoted each student was to their education and how each student understood that education was something they wanted more than anything.
I came home from that trip completely changed about what I wanted to do in life. The best outlet I found was working with nonproﬁt organizations in my area and learning about the issues and solutions for global education and poverty alleviation.
In 2013 I founded Humans of Change as a nonproﬁt organization which builds schools in rural villages to alleviate poverty and create sustainability through education.
Change is a key element in our goals for global poverty alleviation as well as a strong positive inﬂuence in the developing world. Through change we can measure our level of impact from our efforts, as well as cultivate inspiration for further ideas.
Here are ﬁve tips to create change for a positive impact:
1. Start Small – Change doesn’t happen overnight or all at once, but in small, noticeable, and measurable steps. I didn’t come back from my trip to Africa and suddenly start an organization. I spent months researching nonproﬁt organizations, then contacting them, then volunteering all of my free time to learning what they had to offer, and eventually I founded my own organization. If you’re beginning, search for organizations that align with what you feel needs to change in the world. Whether you’re passionate about education, women’s rights, nature conservation, or whatever social issue you feel gravitated to, there’s most likely an organization out there doing what you’d love to do, and most likely they’d love to have on board supporting them. So go out there, ﬁnd an organization, contact them about volunteer opportunities or ways you can help, and then devote your time to learning about the social issues and solutions.
2. Find Your Passion – Mine is very clearly travel and education. If I had never understood my love for education, I never would have pursued a path that taught me more about the fundamentals of the education system. If I had never pursued my love for travel, I never would have gone to Zimbabwe and stumbled upon the school which changed my life. Because I understood what I was passionate about and I pursued those passions, I created opportunities for myself which taught me more about what I wanted to do with my life,
3. Say YES – Life is an incredibly scary and intimidating thing, but it’s created by a medley of small choices we make everyday. When people ask what’s my best travel advice, I tell them to just do it. To say YES rather than NO. Yes to what you want in life, yes to what makes you happy, yes to what you want to achieve, and yes to what you want to do just for fun. I feel that growing up we say a lot more No’s than Yes’s because we’re afraid to try something new or we feel bound to our current responsibilities that hold us back. But truthfully, nothing is holding you back other than yourself. Those fears and scary thoughts in your head will always be there, it’s what you do with them that says what kind of person you are. Those responsibilities you feel so tied to are always going to be there whether you stay or you leave. It’s all about prioritizing your life. It’s understanding what’s important to you and putting those things in front of all the other noises in your life.
4. Your Happiness Matters – Try to understand at an early age what makes you truly happy. Generally your passions and happiness will play hand-in-hand, but somewhere along the line we learned that our happiness doesn’t matter. That ﬁnancial stability and other people’s expectations matter more. So the happier you are as a person, the more positive you’ll be about life and the choices you make. If you’re constantly making choices out of happiness, then you’re bound to create change that positively affects others and the world around you.
5. Educate Yourself – It’s important to gain experiences and act on your goals, but you need to have the proper skill-sets and background to be sure that you’re making more positive changes than negative effects. If I had come back from my trip to Africa and started a non-proﬁt organization immediately, I probably wouldn’t have been making the sort of positive change that I thought I was creating by inﬂuencing people with the little knowledge that I had and perhaps creating actions that were either inappropriate or outdated. Being involved with other organizations and taking the time to educate myself on the issues before acting on them is why Humans of Change has continued to be successful. Take the time to learn as much as possible about something before taking steps toward actionable change. Knowledge is such a powerful tool that will play a strong role when creating positive change.