To my favorite woman in the world:

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My beautiful mom, Debra, with me in Barcelona this past March.

During the last 5 months I’ve often thought: If I’d been born in ___(insert name of developing country here)___ my life would be so different.

The mere name of the country on my passport provides me with a degree of freedom and privilege, which was handed to me at birth. I’m coming home with a new awareness of how fortunate I am to have the rights I have as an American woman. But, I’m also returning with an inexplicable appreciation for the female role model I’ve had for the past 22 years.

The other day I was telling my Nepali girlfriends about my family and showing them photos. When I showed them my mom their reaction was “Oh my gosh. She’s so pulled together – so happy, young, and professional. No wonder you can travel on your own and take care of yourself!”

My initial, Western reaction was “Umm, duh. Just because I’m a girl, doesn’t mean I can’t travel alone and take care of myself.” But then I thought about my upbringing. I thought about how gracefully my mom balances the roles of mother, friend, and successful businesswoman. She’s worked so hard to get to where she is and to guide me. By example, I was raised in an environment where no limitations existed because of gender. She always told me I could be, do and change anything with passion and hard work. And when I started planning this trip she supported me and told me she had complete faith in my judgment.

While as an American female I have opportunities handed to me that women in other countries struggle to attain, a big portion of where I am today is because I’ve had an inspirational woman to guide me there.

So, to my mom, with all the love I can send through this post, thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I wouldn’t be the woman I am without you. xoxoxo

Send a postcard to India and make a young girl smile.

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The photo above is of Pokhara, Nepal. Lucky me, I’m living here for a month. Looks cold, right? It’s not. It’s actually boiling hot during the days, but absolutely beautiful! Posts on Nepal will be up soon!

I constantly struggle with the inevitable fact that social change is difficult to measure. At the end of the day how do you tally the results? Unfortunately, this deters many people from even attempting to create change. It’s so easy to think one individual can influence very little by himself. At times, I even look at my own efforts and wonder how much of a difference I’ve truly made.

Last week I received an email from my friend and the founder of Humaneity Foundation, Mark Philpott. He was in India at the time and he became friends with a young girl named Nandini who goes to Riverside School in Ahmedabad. She asked him to help her with something. She told him: “I collect postcards because I want to see pictures of places from all around the world. So when we have visitors like you come to our school, I ask everyone to send me a postcard from their home place or when they travel to a new place. Do you think you can ask all of your friends to send me a postcard from their home city as well as when they travel somewhere else?”

Now I’m passing along this request to you…As her collection of postcards grows she will be exposed to new places and cultures. And while this may not seem like any direct social change, this simple act of kindness will also show her that the world is filled with friendly and compassionate people. Every time Nandini receives a postcard she will smile. And I cannot think of a better way to measure an act of kindness than in smiles. All you have to do is find a postcard and send it to: Continue reading