Catching up

I don’t blog enough to be considered a blogger by BlogHer (at least once a month). And when I do, I feel the need to preface every entry with something about how I don’t blog enough. But this is a catch up post on what I’ve been up to that hasn’t made it to the Internet. This is motivated by a recent article on Pacific Standard that listed me as one of the 30 top thinkers under 30. If you haven’t read it, there should be something detailed up about me on the 22nd.

To show my thinker status, perhaps another theory rant is coming? No, that seems unnecessary… Instead I’ll just ponder this article a bit and hopefully come up with some interesting topics to write blogs about in the future.

First, when Avital Andrews asked me for the interview earlier this year, I had to look her up to make sure it wasn’t some sort of scam. The humility that keeps me from blogging wasn’t sure that this was a real thing. Why would she interview me? I thought. Now that it’s posted, it seems like a big deal to me, especially that it was found by old friends before I even knew it was up. And the braggart in me that keeps me coming back to blog is pleased.

But the question remains, why would Pacific Standard list me? And who referred me? I’m not sure about that last part, though whoever did knew that I worked in human rights advocacy and knew that I was in a PhD program, and is probably a faculty member somewhere. That shortens the list.

Here are a few things that I hope would make me worthy to be on a 30 top thinkers under 30 list:

  • This summer: This is not confirmed yet. But, I’m hoping and looking forward to the opportunity to work with the RET  in Dadaab, Kenya to do some summer preliminary dissertation about women’s empowerment in adult training programs and to contribute to RET’s programming. All up in the air, still waiting to hear about funding from some places, and no tickets purchased yet. But this is an opportunity that’s impossible to pass up.
  • AUAF: In January of 2014, we lost two great thinkers under 30, Lexie Kamerman and Alexandros Petersen. Although I didn’t know Alex, I knew Lexie briefly, and she was to take over the Women’s Leadership Group which I advised while teaching there in 2012-2013. I hope that they will be forever honored for their sacrifice to this work. My work in Kabul may not have changed the world, but it taught me a lot about educational programming for reconstruction. And about people. I hope to someday go back with these new credentials and work with the Afghan people towards a more peaceful future. I hope that we don’t lose any more great thinkers along the way, though I know the reality that all who work in and love Afghanistan face every day.
  • Helping out with INEE: This year I’ve spent a lot of time working with the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies’ (INEE) Adolescent and Youth Task Team (AYTT). This has been a great opportunity for me to get to know the EiE community, to talk with people who have similar interests and way more work experience, and to connect some of my practical experience with some of the theory I’m learning here at Penn State. Honestly, I’m not sure that it’s been a fair trade but the AYTT did extend my contract till May, which was nice of them.
  • Working with Amnesty International USA on the West Africa Co-group: I volunteer for things (did you notice?) and in the fall I volunteered to serve as the interim chair for the West Africa co-group of country specialists at AIUSA. I’m not saying I’m the best chair in the world, but we’ve had a few more calls than usual, we’ve chatted a little more frequently, and we’ve hired a new country specialist who is doing great work and an inspiration. As the Liberia country specialist, and having many friends in Liberia, I do have to add that I’m worried about the spreading ebola outbreak throughout the region and I hope everyone stays safe!
  • And stuff I did before: before my work in Kabul, I did some cool stuff with Global Health Corps (there’s some posts about it here, and here). And I did some fun work at American University in DC, that I probably should have talked about more since it is really what led me to this degree that I’m seeking now.

And here are some of the things that may have helped:

  • Presenting at conferences? I’ve presented at 2 conferences this academic year, once some cool research I did in Kabul with my students (no IRB, hence no publication), and once about a discourse analysis of policy documents in South Sudan and Afghanistan. I’m also co-presenting some research on moral literacy for social justice with a friend and classmate this month and presenting on a panel with some class mates at the QI conference in May.
  • Getting good grades? No one really knows this besides those closest to me, so this seems unlikely to cause me to be a great thinker under 30.
  • Thinking big thoughts? Well, this is a side effect of being human, no? 

Regardless of why, I’m happy that my age has come in handy and I hope that I can live up to being “the world’s not-yet-known Milton Friedmans and Philip Zimbardos and Margaret Meads.”



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