Saturday, November 6, 2010

Do It Yourself Foreign Assistance NYT Magazine Letter

My response to Nicholas Kristof's excellent NYT Magazine piece from two weeks ago, published in this week's Magazine -

Letters: The D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution
It was a pleasure to read Nicholas D. Kristof’s article on “do it yourself” foreign assistance. The efforts of private American citizens to advance human-development causes at the community level are exceptional stories that are frequently untold.

From the perspective of an organization that supports Americans to volunteer in the Muslim world, I’d like to add two things. First, this kind of service doesn’t just affect day-to-day challenges in education, rights and health. Through the creation of substantive people-to-people partnerships, we can change communities’ impressions of America, as well as our own views of the “other.” Second, you don’t have to be a “full-time hero” to make a difference.

There are opportunities to volunteer on a short-term basis to build a house, teach a class and change a life as one of America’s unofficial ambassadors. The first step is to realize that we can create change, and the next step is to find the right opportunity to do it. Thank you for helping to raise awareness.

Director, America’s Unofficial Ambassadors
Creative Learning

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