What drives you? Can you name it?
One day, while maneuvering through rush hour in Houston, a request came through the radio. This was in early 2005. Months after the horrific tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in SE Asia. The world was still mourning the loss and devastation. The request was for workers... for helpers. To go abroad and help rebuild. There were countless orphaned and many homeless. Emergency AID agencies needed more help. I immediately knew I would go. I was living on loans, in grad school and working part time. But there was not a hesitancy - I signed up to head to Sri Lanka for a relief trip that day.
This was not my first experience going abroad for service work. I started at a young age. I watched many in my family serve in different capacities - in medicine, in translation services, in teaching - abroad, along the Texas border and in communities where we lived. Service was a way of life in both sides of my family - not forced, not boasted about...just done.
In 2003 I spent months in Central America during a break in graduate school... after being re-routed from Mongolia to Eritrea, I finally landed in Honduras. I was studying International Public Health and my job was to work with NGOs to help address the severe food insecurity and lack of education. I saw poverty that can never be written about or explained. I ingrained memories about the depths of the poverty. My time there was priceless with beautiful, hard working people who had nothing. Yet, they gave it all to you when you came to help de-worm, build a well or hand out rice in order to allow their children to stay in school longer.
Previous to that, I told my parents I signed up for a language immersion stay in Guatemala and would be living with family for part of a summer. I recall this was early college. My parents knew there was really no argument. With mixed feelings, my father flew down and dropped me off. I had so many fun adventures and memories from that study abroad.
As early as 8 years old, I spent weeks deep in Mexico with a family friends. I remember after year 2 or 3, I felt confident my body was acclimated to the
water and bought a raspa on the side of the road. Hours later I was vomiting through a hole in the floor of an old VW bug on the way to the hospital. Oopsie... Don't drink the water!
There are many many more places and stories... I have lived, volunteered and worked with immigrant populations since I can remember. I love it. It drives me to do more, think bigger and live differently.
When my grandfather passed on, a cardiac surgeon who helped many, my grandmother gave me a small frame that sat in his office.
This is what drives me today. In my work. In my creativity. And, for the legacy that I leave to my children and their children.
What drives you? What makes you tick? What impact will you leave on this world or in your family?
I hope you find a way to name it and own it.