Looking Back

Have you ever started walking down a path only to realize that you wish to be somewhere else. When I began my second Masters in Nonprofit Management & Social Entrepreneurship it all happened so quickly and then we won an award for the nonprofit project AVEH. I am being featured as student Ambassador for the University ad campaign. I took advantage of the networks and really built a profile on the campus and business community in Baltimore. I am fortunate to have so many amazing experiences and encouragement from the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Looking at classes for my third semester something is pushing me to the next dream which is linked to my ‘day job’. Empowering artisan communities by bridging the gap between the luxury fashion sector to alleviate poverty. The Philippines project collaboration is taking shape in such an amazing way. We are bringing samples made in Bali to poverty stricken artisan villages to make. I am filming a documentary of the program. This is exactly the thing I have been wanting to do. I am testing the business models I created in my first masters dissertation in real life and it seems to be working. Well with many adjustments of course.

I have been secretly preparing for my PHD at Oxford. Not sure how I will get in and pay for it, but it is a big dream of mine. I have decided to discontinue my Masters program and to instead begin my research that will carry through to my PHD. I know that my study can really make a massive difference in these remote communities, but I must fully commit to making a proper go at it. I would have to take a similar approach as I have done these past few months. Work on a project for a period of say 3 months and then spend the next three months documenting and assessing the findings to publish in journals etc. Someone once said, ‘do not be afraid to change your mind’.

If I had not taken the initial leap into development studies these other doors would not have been available for me. So I am so blessed and lucky to have jumped into the experience with reckless nerdy abandon. I have a feeling this chapter is going to be the one I refer to as being the best time of my life. Why? Because I am realizing what I want and how to achieve it without the fear holding me back. Taking bold steps is like a muscle we must exercise. The more we do it the more we begin to believe in ourselves and our ideas.

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When we first started working together on Balinese lace, I got distracted by building a free English school for girls. Now here we are 1 year later: Putu with a new baby girl and I in awh of her beautiful Balinese lace work. We have finally made samples to sew into luxury dressing gowns. Each piece takes about 5 days for her to make which means with an order of 4 robes her monthly salary can be met at a competitive rate and at the convenience her home.

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The process of artisan making has taught me so many lessons, but the most important of all is patience. I could have tried to force the work and nonprofit project to take shape faster, but then the relationships would have been pressured. Instead I took a step back and watched and listened. I began to understand the flow of the community and how they move and live. I then adjusted to their pace to understand that this process of drawing flowers on paper and calmly moving hand and machine to stitch the thread through the fabric takes shape eventually. I love craft for its dedication to beautiful creation.

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When we first started I had to wait for my ride and sit on the back of the bike to drive almost 2 hours to the village. These days I am zipping and weaving through traffic like a speed racer pro. Maybe we can’t see that we are changing and growing, but slowly the butterfly expands its wings and takes flight.

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