What do I want out of Life? — Digging Deep…. to find my Passion

It has been said, and some believe, that we all are given special talents, abilities, and skills that become embedded through the experiences we have growing up. If we are able to discover what makes each person unique and the gift we are all meant to bring into this world, we begin to live our life on purpose and passion.

Well, this was the moment in time that led to my own self-discovery of what I am dedicating my life to. Once again in special thanks to my brother, Aman Rahul, for leaving this life with a special mark on my heart.


My entire view on life has shifted over the last couple of years. I see life completely differently now. I am sitting in my room pondering over some of the recent experiences I have had. In the past, these experiences would have broken me down, I would have become bitter and angry. The cynical and self sabotaging part of me, that exists in everyone, would have become dominate once again. However, even after getting “fired” three times within a 6 month period. Even after going through moments where I felt like a victim in a system that made no sense and was counterproductive to the ultimate objective of an organization I was passionate about and cared about deeply… somehow even after the intense experiences I had within these last 8 months have brought me out on the other side stronger and more determined than ever.

A dream awakened. A dream that was buried deep down that kept being shown to me in every situation that resembled the one I ended with in this organization.

We live in a Mad World. A world that becomes angry and bitter for reasons that could bury the Earth within the Universe. People make decisions not in the best interest of others – but for the best interest of themselves. The self-ish-ness that plagues this world has become its own limitation. We cannot be free until we first become free of ourselves. Yet, everything in our world resembles and mirrors a selfish world.

Many in this life are waiting for an opportunity … are waiting to use their abilities and skills in the most liberating and productive ways possible. Yet, they hit a wall. They run across someone in their life: a co-worker, a boss, a superior, an authority figure, a parent, a sibling, a friend, politician, businessman, a landlord, etc. or even themselves who ultimately are angry or mad on the inside. Mad and/or angry people do not base decisions in whats in the best interest of an organization, business, or even a family… they only make decisions based on what is in their own best interest or their own priorities. Madness rules their lives and when mad people are angry… others around them must deal with the consequences that come from their decisions.

BUT, is it their fault?! Can we blame people for being mad?! No! They are just reacting to a cold and insensitive world. Reacting to a world that barely knows how to manage emotions, and far from even understanding them.  Yet, it’s that madness that keeps people caged up. Walking on egg shells. Or holding themselves back in order to “not upset” other people. Ultimately, selling their own souls short.

So WHAT IF I could create an organization or be part of an organization that puts their people first.

The organization becomes what the people are. The organization turns into who people are as they discover who they are. Then become empowered to bring that to people all over the world.

Empowerment is all I have ever cared about in my life.

I look at how people behave with one another. How I interact with others, how they interact with me. I see how easy, yet complicated things are. People get in their own way. People sabotage each other, in the end taking away from what we all crave. To be noticed, felt, loved, and respected.

Many people get left behind in the rat race. In the end, losing hope, faith, confidence, passion, and the light that may have been bright at one point just gets dimmer and dimmer. The only reason they get left behind is because of what we ALL need to become in order to get there. Some of us cannot get there because of where we were raised or what may or may not be available to us. Many of us are not the rat race, many of us are not what society wants us to be…

Yet, we have no place to become who we are. I will create that place

And My Journey Continues ….

Written by: Suki Kang

Can we really develop people? Does the humanitarian sector truly benefit society from giving things away versus developing people? How much work is it required by us to truly facilitate such success at a human centered level? At the core, this type of work is simple: focus on the people and not on the “things and stuff.” But being humans ourselves is it truly simple when we all embody our own emotions, struggles, priorities, goals, ambitions, and desires?

All I know, personally, now that I have been given an avenue to focus in on heart centered stuff… I never see myself ever leaving. That is where my niche and focus comes from. This work… charges my soul, comes easy for me to initiate and see and pay attention to. However, we all have our own niches that bring out the best parts of our own essence. The fields we went to school for or the industry that speaks the loudest to us. Well, for me it is this NEW wave of thought/feeling that we are creating: that of human centered work and to become a true catalyst in change at a global level.

But what does that really mean? How do we initiate change and catalyze something in the context of the human heart? Well, I do not know. BUT, through my experience at SCHAP and watching something amazing come to life and seeing how far everyone has come since we all worked at the SCHAP house (the name we used for our place of work at the time) I am slowly tapping into the knowledge and wisdom that exists there.

I have learned that when I catalyze something…. I make things happen rather than waiting around for them to happen. Of course, that sounds simple when it comes to our individual goals and priorities. When we make things happen for our own lives and our own ambitions… we only need to depend on one person: ME! However, maybe when we act as a Global Catalyst… It is slightly different. Maybe, to create global change we no longer can focus on ourselves… we must catalyze people interacting with one another and building relationships more so than filling just our own needs.

As some of you may know when SCHAP, the non-profit closed, it affected many people. Many of whom I was very close to and we shared many intimate stories with. It was not easy for me to step aside and let things play themselves out. It was not easy for me to walk away from all of this (no matter HOW much i wanted to be a part of it). There was a moment I thought I never was going to come back because at that time I thought it was best for the rest of the group. The good news: through SCHAP I gained an invaluable insight the level of heart we can create when I move my life from being selfish (just thinking of myself) to becoming self-less (when I begin to see the interconnectedness of this planet). I was already on the verge of embracing a new level of personal relationships… but it was not until I went through SCHAP did I permanently bridge the gap to my own life and move over to the other side. As life catalyzed me into going deep within myself I gained an experience that I would have never imagined and discovered all that becoming self-less could do for the world we all live in.

One day… I plan to share the full story with everyone involved in this work if that door ever opens on a one-to-one basis. At this point, I just want to share that through this experience…. I have discovered and learned the POWER we all contain when we begin to catalyze a human centered process. Even with those sacrifices comes a greater truth that lies in the core of all of our hearts:

That we are all ONE and we all share the same experience.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.


Hey Guys (Former SCHAP Team and anyone else interested)…. In Honor of Thanksgiving… and to say my Thanks to SCHAP for changing my life. I decided to share more about my own experience. I guess we all get one… right?!

If you want to know how I ended up here…. still committed and dedicated to the work Cory Glazier is doing… here it is. Decided to make it official through a blog post. I have a VERY different take on everything and my experience is not the same as others out there. But it still is my own truth. It took me a while to figure things out and I guess ultimately life was testing me to see how important all this stuff was. In the end, it is VERY important.

For the record, I understand many things had been floating around as I had many conversations (all of which I never forgot) after you all got back from Kenya 2011. On my end…. I didn’t feel right moving forward until I set the record straight from how I have seen things. From my experience Cory has been such an awesome and fun person to work with. In fact, I have never met anyone in my life who is as honest, dedicated, loyal, and a team player as Cory. I would not want to work for any other person because I have never met anyone else who has a level of integrity and dignity that is very rare in this world. I am honored to still be supporting him and he is one of the best leaders I know to be alive. Everyone, I guess, has their own experiences with a person. Mine does not align with how other people have viewed him or his work ethic.

I thought it was time for me to share why I have kept going and why I never moved on like many of you may have. I will share the story based from the perspective of the Past, Present, and Future.

And My SCHAP-ride continues
(but its been transformed)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING YOU ALL… may all our lives be blessed with joy, happiness and friendships.

November 22, 2012

The Past… began when I connected to something DEEP!!!! I didn’t know it at the time… but my heart was on a journey. Of course when I met Cory, he catalyzed the start of my journey to go deep within ME!!!!

I never ever pushed myself in my own life like I did when I got into SCHAP. I saw power and YES “magic” like we all used to experience and talk about while working at SCHAP. That magic … kept me fighting and going and going no matter what happened on the outside. It was a TOUGH journey… full of happiness, joy, tears, at times anger and resentments BUT more importantly MANY lessons. I still remember the success I saw come to life within grants and Official funding. The more success that grew…. the more success SCHAP and then eventually SCHAP University… and then University Without Borders experienced the MORE AND MORE I connected to something far deeper. So, that “energy” kept me going. Yes. Energy has been a new buzz word flying around (we never spoke of it back in the days)… but its the COOLEST THING IN THE WORLD. Imagine Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and even all those who create music, movies, film… theater. It all comes to BIRTH through creation/energy of those writing the scripts… following their intuition… and bringing something to LIFE. I began to experience that for the first TIME ever in my life. So why would I ever leave?!

So, I NEVER left. I was forever indebted to this work… because there was NO WAY i could continue to live without having other people feel and experience what I was experiencing.

Here is the best way I could describe that energy I was experiencing….

ENERGY: life is energy…. all that we are and all that we touch is all energy. We live in an interconnected world. What happens across the world impacts us here…. the choices we make here (especially how we implement and carry out international development projects) impacts people’s daily life permanently. The day I walked into SCHAP and connected to my own internal vision DEEPLY … i felt the first hand effects of ENERGY. Magic came to life around me and the law of attraction began to work in my favor. Energy cannot be faked. Because fake energy is also energy that can be detected by those who are consciously aware of their surroundings and deeply in tuned to their environment. When we can facilitate a process to get each individual on our planet to connect to their own inner vision and then support them to bring that vision to fruition we EMPOWER people to live their own calling no matter what “conditions” they come from. We move away from the controlling and selfish world we live in… a world that fakes its way to “belong” and aligns the stars to a greater purpose. We make our populations in any country experience a force in life only the top 10-20% truly get to experience. A force that comes to life through the energy that is sparked when we connect mind, body, and soul. It creates an abundance level of happiness and a feeling deep inside that makes us just want to GIVE it away rather than take. This energy …. is UNSTOPPABLE ♥

Now, that was the past!

Here is the PRESENT where things are RIGHT NOW… at least on my end through my experience. A deeper component I did not know anything about when i was at SCHAP… it came to life through my experience over the last 18 months…. (written in real-time when…it came into existence)

“Born in the United States with my family roots from India, I spent most of my life being pulled into a state of limbo: the limbo of knowing the goodness that exists in all humans and witnessing on the outside the superficial conflict that could separate people. Over time, a vision began to grow and live deep in my heart…to see people come TOGETHER.

At a time in my life, when I know many people who leave their own culture and roots behind to make it in the American Dream, overtime I discovered a new one: To see TWO worlds come TOGETHER – the developing (represented by those who seek to better opportunities) and the developed (representing the possibilities that could exist). So we could truly leave a strong impact and make a difference. To see the doors of interdependence open across all borders because we come to find that we live WITHOUT BORDERS. To see people look beyond themselves and recognize that we are all connected in the same experience. We are all ONE. I am you. You are me. We can achieve world peace if we can achieve coming together in unity.

My message: to see two worlds come together – the developing and the developed. My Dream is to see all those who have never believed in visions or dreams ever before in their lives and think of them as a silly joke because their life is just so far away from that possibility (like mine was) to get the chance to experience what I had the chance of experiencing over these past two years.

We can Catalyze resources, We can eventually catalyze a new system… BUT can we catalyze people?! Without us coming together… we have nothing, but a dream that never had the chance to come to fruition. Are U WITHOUT BORDERS?! ♥ God Bless! “

Now…. we are moving into the FUTURE. Are you ready?! Because we are starting a MOVEMENT!

THE NEW FUTURE: Actually let me rephrase… the movement has already started… because here is the thing guys.. Once energy is sparked.. it cannot be stopped. It truly is UNSTOPPABLE. There are many people already (some within Engineers Without Borders, others at Unstoppable Entrepreneur) etc… that are already LIVING in this unstoppable energy. They are creating, living, and pushing past their …limits. Just like we all had a STRONG connection to something far greater than ourselves… I remember Kat sharing with us how she was “envisioning” something. She had a dream about the 2011 Kenya trip before you all went out there… that is what I am talking about. I know that Kat was also one of the craziest ones who never gave up in Kenya 2011 and kept fighting and pushing and following through her micro-finance plans. It was something inside of her that kept her going…

Something that made us come ALIVE.

Well, there are people now who are in that zone. I have FINALLY found my way back into that zone. You also have the same opportunity to find your way back… the craziest RIDE ever.

TRUST THE PROCESS: but, don’t worry… no need to feel overwhelmed. Developing people.. is a SLOW and steady process. The key thing is to trust the process. Trust YOUR own intuition. Follow your gut… go DEEP inside. And listen to that quiet inner voice. BECAUSE… we are ALL leaders! No one is in charge… you are in charge of your OWN destiny. ♥

So, get ready to have ALL of your limits tested…

All of your beliefs flushed to the surface… and get ready to just experience. This is a life long journey we are on. All this is …. is an experience and ONE giant GAME of LIFE (ohhhh yeah another new buzz word guys) GAME ON. We are all playing one giant human experiment and one giant game of life on how BIG can we create.

Imagine if you had the ENTIRE world on your shoulders… how BIG can you get. That is how BIG i want you to dream because we can make it happen as long as YOU are willing to take full ownership and responsibility in your own process.

We are DEVELOPING PEOPLE. I am developing myself and supporting others in the process.

What is your vision?! Your Stand?! What do you want to create in this world?! …. Let’s make it happen and Change the World TOGETHER

If people are the best resource of its nation, then can we build bridges between the people across nations?

As the Director of the Community Outreach Team at Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA San Diego), Power Up Kenya project, I am now responsible for ensuring our project is as human centered as possible given our limited scope of implementation. The mission is to create, develop, and implement a sustainable power source to a large empty building that was built by a local community member who grew up in Mbita, Kenya 38 years ago. Currently, he lives in Michigan, United States with his wife and two high school kids. When the time was right, Dan Orao contacted EWB-USA to take on the challenge of powering up the 1,500 square foot building. The San Diego Professional Chapter was rewarded the opportunity. Dan’s dream was to bring the computer age to his region and ultimately create a curriculum for secondary education facilitated through the Island Technology Center building. EWB-USA SD  has become the catalyst of his dream.

Matt Lashinsky, Head of Project, invited me to take on the role of Director to ensure we are incorporating human centered principles as illustrated through Cory Glazier’s “Ending Poverty by Developing People” workshop series. These principles are a work in progress and with my limited background in international development work it is still unclear in how realistic they may be given the complex systems that exist all around the world.  However, now that our team is taking on an international development project I do believe it is fully my responsibility to uphold each other to the principles of the workshop, to the best of our ability, right here at EWB-USA SD while we work toward preparations. If we cannot put them into action here, will we really be able to put them in action in a foreign country?

In regards to the other side of the equation, abroad and as Director, the responsibility falls on me, along with the rest of our team, to ensure the work we do in that country creates growth and opportunity rather than more problems. When we are working with people who find struggle in day-to-day living conditions, we must ensure the actions we take on the ground will move community members out of poverty rather than take them deeper into their impoverished circumstances. The topic of poverty is a complex one as it works within an intricate system. If we do not work within that system, which may be drastically different from what we know to be true, then we could create more destruction in that community. That destruction can only reinforce the subtle beliefs that live in the community members and create further dependency as we take on the perception that those living in poverty need to be saved or rescued from outside organizations.

International development work is fundamental in the area that focuses on people helping people. Cory Glazier is changing the way we focus on helping people. Rather than putting our efforts into developing communities, we, instead focus all our energy on developing the people; who then can focus on developing their own communities.  Could there be common patterns emerging within the current humanitarian system? Are those patterns working or not working? How are those patterns or approaches affecting people’s lives? Could there be other possibilities? A different perspective that could lead to greater sustainability in the work of international community development? If that work is facilitated through a local community member living in America could the level of personal responsibility local leaders have for their own community be far greater than if an American went to another country to facilitate the work abroad? Dan Orao dedicated his youth and young adult to build his skills and abilities, beat the odds and arrive in a new country, and then worked to develop himself to the point where he was able to give back to his roots back home. What can we create when Americans come together to assist and plan with Dan, or those who resemble Dan? Can we begin to shift the way the international humanitarian efforts see outside support? When we put the local leaders in front of their own communities as we engage with them in support rather than in the driver seat could our impact on the whole be greater?  Could this allow the gateways of interdependence to open and begin to move people out of poverty for the long haul? These are all questions that now roam through my soul. Could we come together to determine those answers? I do believe if we truly and warm heatedly believe in the fundamental concept of people helping people, we have a responsibility to do so.

Poverty is not a reflection of the will or character of a community or an individual. It is man-made and the actions of our fellow humans can move people out of impoverished conditions. However, that cannot happen when we give things away, do things for other people, or pursue interactions based through paternal instincts. People who live in extreme conditions have tremendous internal strength to persevere. What people need is opportunity and growth that is facilitated through patience, love and support.

I have a responsibility to the people of this nation and the people within the nation we will be working in, Kenya. That responsibility comes from engaging, connecting and interacting with all people who are involved in this project – within my role as the Director of the Community Outreach Team and outside of it. This responsibility is not confined within the walls of my role through this EWB-USA SD project, but that responsibility also extends through those invisible walls of entitlement. Entitlement that keeps us focused on ourselves rather than the responsibility we have to the people. A responsibility that becomes an unbreakable bond between all the people who are connected through this experience. That bond will move us through the tough times where we feel like giving up or accepting the status quo. The commitments I make to the people along the way will turn into the responsibility I have to the people, which will turn into the fuel I need to keep going.

Responsibility does not live within the constraints of an official role, it exists as a bond; human to human and nation to nation. A permanent bridge that cannot be broken because we come to know that it is the people who matter and nothing else. If we are not changing people’s lives for the better, then we are failing in the work to alleviate poverty.

Join me on my next adventure: “Riding EWB-USA SD”

Becoming a Global Catalyst!
Written by: Suki (Sukhpreet) Kaprese Kang

          I created a career when someone created a community in which I could flourish. A group of young people had come together to host another one of our regular team meetings, yet this particular one was different. We had come together for a special announcement. Personally, I could not wait to see the look on everyone’s face. One of the best team celebrations came after this announcement as the leaders got together to make a group toast and then huddled into an intimate chat afterward. That night I did not sleep. I was glowing on the outside and experiencing a surge of energy, wildly firing off, on the inside. Eventually, I became paralyzed, as the emotion sent me into a deep reminiscence of the entire journey that had brought us to that point. In September of 2010, I had become a volunteer for a non-profit organization called SCHAP (Sustainability, Comprehensive, Humanitarian, Assistance and Planning), which was seeking to secure long-term funding and needed first to find an individual who would take on that challenge. With no background in grant writing (or formal writing in general), with neither knowledge of the organization nor any connections to the people working within it, and with absolutely no time in my day to add another commitment, I was entrusted with that responsibility. How could someone openly and willingly entrust a huge responsibility like this one to someone with no credentials? I did not know, but what I did know: I was ready. I was just happy that I was given that chance. The more I learned about the underlying philosophy and the principles of SCHAP, the more I became committed to the development of its growth and the beginnings of a greater purpose.

Fast-forward to April 21, 2011, the day of the big announcement. SCHAP CEO Cory Glazier shared the news with the rest of the team: the non-profit had just received its first big donor check in the amount of $10,000. When I first joined the non-profit seven months before I could not have imagined that it would be possible. Never in my life, prior to that moment, had I created success at that level after having been given the freedom to make my own choices. Finally, someone in my life had believed in me and had given me the chance to prove that I could do anything I set my mind and heart to. To my surprise, they were right. Seven months later, as the news of our first big donation came to light, I was officially a walking example in the dormant skills and abilities that live in each individual. Through this opportunity, I tapped into true freedom by becoming deeply empowered. There was no way I could predict what a miracle like this one would bring to my life externally, but more importantly, I had no way of knowing what it would awaken inside of me. The response to such news, as I personally experienced it, far exceeded my wildest dreams. When the sun finally came up over the horizon the next morning, a new vision had come into existence. This was when I knew that I was fully committed to this work. Since then, SCHAP closed its doors to ensure the sustainability of the work would continue as its founder moved toward a social business endeavor. However, even though I did not know it at the time, the vision of a brighter future lived on. I had found my life-long purpose: something more than a job; a career. In the process of working toward changing the lives of other people, I began to change my own.

          This past April, I was honored to participate in a special event called “So We Think We’re Helping…?,” which was produced by an organization that is now dear to my heart, Ending Poverty Together (successor of SCHAP). It was hosted by Cory Glazier in partnership with members of Engineers Without Borders and the Global Ties student club at University of California San Diego. Glazier presented the audience with a complex array of information distilled into simple language, minimizing the use of technical jargon. The presentation was designed to provide each one of us with a prescription to change the world. That prescription comes in the shape of becoming a global changemaker, or what I like to call a “global catalyst.” During this event, Glazier explored what is currently working and what is broken within the international development industry. Applying the concepts of internal locus of control and external locus of control and their implications within the international development industry, this article will attempt to evaluate the importance of admitting and openly discussing failures in the development industry and the repercussions that emerge when we do not.

           The integration of an internal locus of control is the prerequisite that is needed to become a Global Catalyst. Becoming a Global Catalyst has its roots in the belief that we can be the positive force in our own lives. At a philosophical level, we can act as a fork in the road for one another as we catalyze people to move in one direction or another in their lives through our interactions with them. A Global Catalyst can see beyond him or herself in order to determine what is best for the whole, perhaps making sacrifices in order to produce a stronger positive impact. The resulting energy, once it is sparked, becomes the fuel for the fight; an unstoppable force that comes into existence through a full embodiment of an internal locus of control.

          In Cory Glazier’s presentation, the foundational principle was the concept of internal versus external locus of control. According to Glazier, “Locus of control is where you believe control and change come from.[1]” Some people believe that change and control come from the circumstances and the environment that surround them, while others believe they come from the inside.  Glazier explains:

“People with an external locus of control look toward parents, government, NGOs, church. They look to outside sources to help solve their problems. People with an internal locus of control believe that… if they want something different in their lives, in their communities, or in their world, then the buck stops at them; that there is something that they can do to be able to step (up) to the plate and be able to create positive change in their circumstances and their environment. In other words, those with external locus of control are waiting for change. Those with an internal locus of control are making change.”

Throughout his presentation, Glazier repeatedly brought the focus back onto this immediate spark, which is absolutely necessary in the mind and heart of a person before permanent change can occur. It is that shift, from an external locus of control to an internal one, that can produce a long-term, sustainable, positive impact in communities all over the world. In order to create change in one’s own life (or the lives of others) one must possess an internal locus of control. This shift is so crucial that without it, nothing else can be sustained.

           When those exploring the humanitarian industry apply the locus of control concept to international development work, it becomes clear that a shift is still needed. We begin to tune into a level of awareness that community members in impoverished communities have developed an external locus of control. Due to the actions of NGOs and third-party organizations, community members have become dependent upon them. In his presentation, Glazier shared the story of a community we’ll call El Naranjo (name protected out of anonymity), a farming community in Colombia. The message within the story of this community clearly illustrated what led to the development of an external locus of control within the members of that rural community. A third-party organization saw a need: the desire to improve the farming methods of the community. Volunteers from the organization applied their own understanding of how farming was carried out in the developed world. With good intentions, they went to work. A tractor and other equipment were introduced to the community from external means. Those resources would have been highly inaccessible to the community on its own. The good news: the use of the new farming equipment led to a record-breaking production in rice and resulted in record-high profits. Eventually, the organization that had assisted in this rapid growth left the area and the community was on its own.

Six years later, the founder returned to El Naranjo to check on progress. He learned that a couple of months after he had left, the tractor had broken down due to a basic mechanical problem.  Because the community did not have the basic skills and resources to fix the problem, the tractor was never used again. As we zoom out to reflect on the big picture, in the short-term and on the surface, great success was seen economically. However, in the long run, what was created was a disaster with no long-term positive impact. The worst part to this story was this: even after it was clear that the original project carried out by the third-party organization proved to provide no real long-term value, the community still asked the organization to come back and help them again. This completely boggled the mind of the organization’s founder. Why would they ask him to come back? Glazier stated that the founder realized something pivotal, “[The community] perceived the progress that they made dependent upon this foreign organization to come in and that as soon as they left, their success failed.” In the end, the members of the community developed an external locus of control, believing “that they weren’t able to enact positive change and… were waiting for another organization to come in and help to make change for them.”

           After long and intensive work within the international development industry, spanning roughly four years, Glazier eventually began to see signs of the positive effects the shift to an internal locus of control can have within the leaders of a community. Glazier made a conscious effort to teach community members the differences between an external and internal locus of control. When community leaders realized how other NGOs and third-party organizations had impacted their communities and the minds of the community members, they initially became furious. In Glazier’s words, “They were pissed!” Their frustration was not directed at the organizations whose actions had ultimately led to the development of their external locus of control; instead the leaders were frustrated at themselves for letting it happen. Glazier recognized that this was the beginning of true empowerment within these communities. As he began to witness the shift in mindset among the community leaders, Glazier reinforced his own belief that this was the only responsible solution in poverty alleviation.  As leaders took full ownership of their own communities, without depending on outside organizations, the members of those communities continued the process of building long-term sustainability even after Glazier had left the area. The shift from an external to an internal locus of control enabled the community as a whole to gain something that had once been lost to them: power and control over their own future; deep sense of freedom in the manifestation of empowerment!

          Upon Glazier’s return to the United States, he continued the process of investigating and learning about the entire development industry as a whole.  A speech hosted by TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, proved to Glazier the level of importance of the critical need that had to be addressed within the current system of humanitarian aid. David Damberger delivered a presentation that posed a question previously asked by economists and aut­­­hors, “Has aid failed?”  This question stems from controversy surrounding the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of international humanitarian aid. Both Glazier and Damberger have decided to look the industry in the eye and admit that while humanitarian aid may or may not have completely failed, the current system is definitely broken.  Damberger illustrates the importance of facing what is broken as he shares the consequences that emerge when we do not: “How is it that a project that was built ten years ago was rebuilt, almost the same technology, same process, and had exactly the same failure ten years later? “[2] In this story, he discusses the impact broken down water faucets had on a community one to two years after they had been built via a third-party organization. Upon further investigation, identical water irrigation system faucets were found within that same community that had been built ten years prior by another organization based out of the United States. The same system with the same challenges and the same mistakes was built ten years later. There was a complete disconnect between the original project and the lessons learned, or lack thereof, and the next project that surfaced in the same community through a completely different organization. We see the same pattern of recreating the same mistakes all over the world. The need to connect the lessons not only within organizations, but around the world becomes greater and greater as more and more lives are affected by how the international development sector currently attempts to alleviate poverty.

           Damberger is not alone in discussing failures. Daniela Papi, founder of PEPY (Protect the Earth, Protect Yourself) Tours, shares her realizations through her blog, Lessons I Learned.  Papi envisions a world that employs responsible volunteer tourism so that the volunteers traveling and the local communities both benefit from the experience. Papi has developed a new concept of “learning service”, which is designed to reinforce the importance of “learning and engaging instead of merely observing and giving things away.”  In that process, Papi created Lessons I Learned to share her own experiences through the years. At one point, Papi came across a story called, A Tale of Three Schools, by Alexia Netora, creator of Voluntourism Gal. Netora acts as a volunteer tourism industry consultant and her blog, Voluntourism Gal, documents her notes on the industry. In A Tale of Three Schools, Netora brings attention to the potential wasteful spending that occurs in the international development industry. During her travels to Kenya, Netora discovered a community which, over time, had three schools built within one acre of each other. The first school was 100% built by local community members using local resources. It was the community’s own school, and was running effectively. Later, as the story goes, an NGO funded by outside donors stumbled onto the community and decided to build another school because NGO members thought it needed to be bigger. Volunteers went to work putting the school together with expensive, imported materials. In the meantime, the original school, that had once run effectively sat vacant next to the new one and was used for storage. As the story continues, a third NGO eventually makes its way into the same community and decided that the community of only 500 needed another school. Once again, they go to work, but before they finish the project the funding ran out and the NGO was unable to complete the development of the third school. Netora summarizes, “This small community now has three schools – one that was functioning but now sits vacant, one that is smattered with foreign names that is used, one that is half built and probably will never be finished… A crowd of three schools, two out of the three brought about by foreigners.[3]” All three schools sit within one acre of each other. On her blog, Papi reflects upon her own experience in the industry coming to the conclusion that the only answer to this wasteful spending problem is “having leadership with core values aligned with making an impact, rather than building half-built and unnecessary schools… We need to talk about these things – and stop them from happening in the future.”  Damberger and Papi share the same future vision within the humanitarian industry. Papi supports the underlying message of admitting failure. “I believe in sharing what we learn to help others avoid our same mistakes and also exposing ourselves to the criticism and questions which might help us improve.,[4]” she writes.

We, at Ending Poverty Together, are creating the means necessary to bring together the knowledge, intelligence, and capacity that exist within the development industry.  We have come to realize the importance in sharing lessons, information, and resources in order to fully embrace effective methods of alleviating and possibly even eradicating poverty. Some have embraced this concept of “admitting failure[5]” in order to tap into the power within those lessons learned. Ashley Good, Head of Failure at Engineers Without Borders, Canada, elaborates, “By admitting our failures, we end failure cycles and begin a linear progression of failing forward.“  The action of failing forward, according to Ashley, causes positive growth to flourish under five conditions: 1) operating in a safe environment for testing risky innovative ideas; 2) recognizing failures early; 3) admitting failures openly and honestly; 4) learning from these failures; 5) adapting actions based on the lessons learned in order to improve upon risky innovative ideas. At Ending Poverty Together, we have discovered the power that lies in sharing those lessons that currently lie buried in the humanitarian sector by facilitating a training program that takes into consideration those lessons and then turns it back around by providing them to our society at large.

This process of reflecting, admitting failure, developing, sharing and then re-training can only be taken on by fully embodying an internal locus of control. We may never know what we can create until we decide to create something. In the past, I relied on external means to assist me in making decisions, including parents, friends, boyfriends, authority figures, and even social media outlets. I was waiting for change to happen in my life. My experience, with the responsibility that was entrusted in me as I took on the challenge of locking in funding for SCHAP, would never have come to be if I still lived within that external locus of control. Rather, I would have come up with excuses for my own lack of performance. The external barriers would have superseded my own commitment and desire to learn and grow, ultimately leading to failure in my own ambitions. My faith in the possibilities of a better future came from my own desire to see through my own decisions. It was a learning process. As long as I made a decision, I knew I would learn something, and each time I learned exactly what I needed to do next to move my objective closer to its goal. This shift does not rely on external confirmations, but only on an internal one: the one that says, I choose it and I am open to embrace whatever happens next! The universe begins to work in our favor; life becomes a flow rather than a struggle upstream. For me, this was made evident when Cory Glazier made the announcement that we had the first donor in the amount of $10,000. In order to get to that external confirmation, I had to go through dozens of internal confirmations first. When we live through an external locus of control we see failure; when we live through an internal locus of control every moment becomes a lesson for the next step. Inverting failure into success becomes the path to achieving your dreams.

As we make the decision to become global catalysts, together we create a movement that is committed to shifting the entire humanitarian development industry from the development of things toward developing people. The willingness to change can only come from the inside and it can only come when we are ready. After experiencing “So We Think We’re Helping?”, my dear friend Janine Sotelo shared the following on Glazier’s personal Facebook page: “Your passion and depth of knowledge on the topic of alleviating and ultimately eliminating the effects of poverty in the world are incredibly powerful and inspiring. I feel very hopeful and very blessed… The world make(s) sense for me again.” Her reflection represents a foundation of community that builds on unity as we share our experiences with one another in support of a common goal. The goal is to educate ourselves, empower each other, leverage human capital, collaborate in our own endeavors and aspirations, and pool resources in pursuit of our mission: Ending Poverty Together.

[1] Glazier, Cory. Ending Poverty Together. N.p., 26 Apr. 2012. Web. 2012. http://www.endingpovertytogether.org/the-poverty-alleviation-industry/.
[2] Damberger, David. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading – What Happens When an NGO Admits Failure. N.p., Dec. Web. 2012. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/david_damberger_what_happens_when_an_ngo_admits_failure.html.
[3] Netora, Alexia. Voluntourism Gal. N.p., Jan. 2011. Web. 2012.
[4]  Papi, Daniela. Lessons I Learned. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. .
Papi, Daniela. Pepy Tours. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. http://www.pepytours.com/about-us/what-is-pepy-tours.
[5] Good, Ashley. Admitting Failure. Engineers Without Border, Canada. N.p., 14 Jan. 2011. Web. 2012. <http://www.admittingfailure.com/browse/>.

Two-Faced Success – I FAILED!

I FAILED! I may have not failed in a business or within an organization setting, but I failed in something more important – in my own life.

I departed a chaotic lifestyle – encapsulated by negativity, disbelief, and a level of emotional turbulence that had left me with only one choice: to walk away from the only foundation I knew. For years, I hid from my own pink elephant. That pink elephant that represented all that wasn’t working in my life. After, seeing the insides of a jail cell, I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t belong here. My life is being wasted away.” After, burying myself in my room for six months trying to dig myself out of a depression. After, I continued to watch myself become heartless and selfish in my first long-term romantic relationship – there were moments when I looked into the mirror and could no longer recognize the person who I had become.  After, alienating myself from my own family – the people who for sure loved me unconditionally, but I felt as if they were full of them. After, having many moments where I contemplated suicide, but the fear of death kept me alive. After, living in my car homeless for an entire semester as I refused to ask anyone for help – Yes, I had come head on to get a dose of what poverty could feel like. After, gaining all the reasons I could possibly have to be angry at the world, one important day somewhere in all this chaos, I came to a harsh reality check. I, and only I, was the common denominator in all these circumstances. I had ignored that pink elephant. I had FAILED!

What had me locked in this cage was the one thing that keeps our entire world shackled in prison – the two-faced success. On the outside, my public image forced me to save face, talk only about my achievements and successes, and make sure I put on a smile. But the other side was the face of failure, the consequences that came from the face of success: all the turmoil, the chaos, the doubt, the insecurity, the panic that lived inside of me. This face was how I really felt and thought about things, but refused to share my true feelings and thoughts with people. Shhhhh… I was not allowed to tell anyone.

So… I began to realize. This is my story! The struggles I was born to endure in my life. How I would learn from them would be completely up to me. The meaning I assigned to my struggles would be in my hands to design. Now, an interesting thought surfaced soon after. If I have a story… did that mean others have one too? If sharing my own story became a liberating and growing experience, how much could I evolve and grow from hearing the stories of others? Could the stories of other people in my life and strangers be similar to mine or very different? These questions have led me to discover my own personal journey!

We can focus on the short-term and leave no greater impact. Or we can focus on the long-term and create sustainable solutions. My life before I addressed the pink elephant was short-lived as I moved through all the phases of my life. Once I looked directly at the two-faced success cross fire and admitted that I had failed in my own life, I finally began to put myself on a progressive failing forward path (Admitting Failure). Ultimately, it led to a long-term sustainable foundation, which I had built from the ground up – completely solo! Today, I am deep heartedly empowered and ready to take on the world.

Let’s share our own stories. Let’s learn from our own successes and failures of our own endeavors.

Sustainability is only as strong as the foundation it is held by. Join each other in collaborating in the design of the strongest possible foundation as we work together for the betterment of our world!

Written by: Suki Kang

[1] Admitting Failure. Engineers Without Borders Canada, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. <http://fail.ewb.ca/about/why/&gt;.

I recently opened up a discussion on how guilt can become a manifestation in our lives. In my earlier post, I shared how I came face to face with this emotion and how I had come to experience it, learn from it, and fully embrace it. The next part to this topic was the discovery of what could possibly happen when we take full ownership of this emotion.  Once we recognize our own guilt for whatever actions or decisions we may have made in the past… once we recognize the impact of those choices and decisions on other people… could we create something powerful?

Today, I have fully learned and discovered in my own personal life the answer to that question is with no doubt, YES! What we fully and deep hearteningly create is RESOLUTION. We create the opportunity to come full circle with the people in our lives… and more importantly – ourselves! Guilt is not an easy emotion to embrace. I have come to experience, anger is far easier to hold onto. But, I have discovered that anger becomes the kryptonite in allowing us to solve our own problems.

When we first begin a new adventure, experience, interaction, project, or even a relationship/friendship … it is completely fresh, inspiring, motivating, and we love it. Eventually, we all know we hit a wall… things change. We lose the motivation, things become stagnant. The spark is no longer there. I am now starting to believe that Anger is what causes that change. It can be so subtle… we can get angry without even knowing we are angry. And poof just like that all that inspiration, motivation, inner spark that had us flying on by … just disappears. “It” becomes like everything else – bland, with no spice.

Recently, I have discovered that what is important to me is my right to self-expression. I must be allowed to fully express myself or else I get ANGRY! In another post (that I will be writing soon) I will discuss how living in a democracy does not necessary guarantee our right to fully express ourselves. This past year in 2011… I went through a series of experiences that ultimately robbed me of my right to express myself.

Today, after a long journey… an up and down roller coaster ride, I finally am feeling that feeling inside of me. That feeling that lit the propane tank for me. That feeling that had me soaring through the amazon jungle, dodging predators in the wild… that feeling that had me on my own adventure. An adventure that I never really left, but felt on the inside that it was no longer mine… but someone else’s.

When I do the hard thing… own up to my own poor choices of the past by recognizing through the discovery of the emotion of guilt. Then I make a NEW choice and begin the process of reconciliation and heal what could be healed by fulling owning that emotion. Power is born. Not positional, political, or external power. But power that resides in each one of us. Power to LIVE through the freedom of our own self-expression.  A resolution that allows us to “regain” the fresh, inspiring, motivating force that had us flying through the amazon when we first started :-)

What once felt lost… has now been reborn!

Life brought me an once in a lifetime opportunity.  That opportunity spoke to me in the most deepest way possible.  This opportunity grabbed me so uniquely … I didn’t even realize the strength of that grasp until many choices had already laid out the path.  This once in a lifetime experience led me to fully experience the power that lies in ONE emotion: GUILT.

This is the next drop I have decided to take this emotional roller coaster down.  Another drop that puts many of us in many similar situations.  For some reason, I have been given this very strong and devoted ability to not only want, but almost oblige to the pull that comes from the retrospection that is needed to fully grasp the human heart.  Even though our world despises them, ignores them, criticize them, shuns them, or punishes others who fully express them — emotions drive everything within us and outside of us. My only driving force to want to get up in the morning. My reason to live. My dedication to continue living life no matter how life seems to treat me stems from my inner curiosity to study, understand, and intellectualize human emotions. So, life brought me a one-on-one with the emotion of Guilt.

What is this emotion?! What is its significance?! How do we differentiate it from the others?! Can there be power in it?! Is it easy to run from?! Easily confused or diverted through the other emotions?!  These are the questions I ponder next…

Anger surfaces when we feel someone else wronged us.  I have come to experience that guilt is the opposite of anger. It surfaces when we realize that we have wronged someone else.  We may have not known it at the time… in fact, most of the time we never feel guilt right away — it grows and blossoms over time depending how situations and people evolve. Some of us may never feel it if we continue to carry the original anger.  When we carry anger for longer periods of times… we feel as if others have wronged us more so than us wronging them.

Could there be a difference between shame and guilt?  I’ve seen that shame is when we associate ourselves as bad. That who we are is bad.  Guilt comes from knowing that NOT who we are was bad, but the actions we took were bad.

Guilt is defined by Dictionary.com as:
1. the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability: He admitted his guilt.
2. a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
3. conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs, etc.: to live a life of guilt.

Life doesn’t always give us all the information we need to make the best decision in a situation. Sometimes we are required to seek the information we must obtain in order to move forward accordingly (police and detectives are required to do this before they accuse others of  a crime). However, the general public is not held to the same standard. So what do we do when people choose to with-hold information that would ultimately influence or affect how we make the decisions in our own lives?!  Since we don’t really have a legal obligation, we are left with pure human will to determine how to best proceed.  We only get questions to clear up the confusion in our own minds. Or taking the concept of questions a step further… we only get questions to facilitate the confusion in someone else’s mind.  It has been said that the “quality of questions we ask determines the quality of our life,” but how do we ask questions when people do not want to answer them or choose not to ask themselves?!

Guilt is a tricky emotion. It does not surface until far down the line.  Some time in the future (weeks, months, or even years) down the line we may discover new information. New information that we did not possess or was not given to us prior to. This new information could change everything. It is the discovery of this new information that may or may not determine the influence we had prior to. If that influence causes pain and hurts others in the process… we may come face to face with GUILT.

I had that encounter this past year in 2011.  Prior to my life I never really cared to deeply analyze or assess guilt or any other emotion…. I was just caught up in what I call the whirlwind of emotions. Had no idea what they meant. But this last time… i really felt and got to know the distinct emotion of Guilt.

What I will assess next is the power that comes from this recognition and what we can eventually create after the full ownership of GUILT…