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My Vision There are many problems that affect the world.

Two of the most important problems to me are: Health and Education. I truly believe education is the key to improving livelihoods of developing countries. Education can provide the training for inhabitants to improve their agricultural tools, their government policies, the labor market, etc. Education systems need reform in three main areas: access, utilization, and quality. Improving access for all is the first step in bettering the education of all human beings. Some education is better than no education. Next, making sure that all those who have access to education actually use it. Governments need to show the benefits and incentivize parents to send their children to school. Social norms and historical barriers need to be combated in many places as well. And finally, the quality of education needs to be improved before countries have a successful system for their citizens. Ideally, this step will be improving continuously from the beginning. Where does health come into play with my education ideals? Well a large problem that occurs in developing countries is the poor health care system that does not support its citizens. Children and families are ridden with disease and therefore are unable to receive education. The health system is a two-part problem: Education and Improved access and quality. Families need to be educated on proper health practices that could reduce their health problems. They also need to be educated on their rights and where to get care. The health care system also needs to be improved to fit the needs of the inhabitants that it serves. It is no use building more hospitals if they are not able to be maintained by quality doctors or have the supplies they need to attend to all patients. I believe that this is where I fit into the scheme of things. I do not believe that development workers have all the answers nor the supplies those we serve need, but I do believe I can help those communities to utilize their natural resources to improve their own livelihoods. I really would like to work in health education and improving knowledge surrounding infectious diseases and maternal health care. Improvements in these areas can drastically alter the development of a region. Many believe (as do I) that women are the key to improving livelihoods. Mothers are generally the center of the family. They are the ones who produce meals for the families and are the main factor in the childrearing. By improving their knowledge and health practices, they will inevitably change the environment for their children and husbands. Vision Guide My values are guided typically on my morals: what I grew up learning about what is right and wrong. I believe every person has a right to an education, health care, shelter, and food (among other things). If at any point the government or greater society inhibits those rights, then something needs to change. Another thing that has guided my vision is the people I have met along the way and the experiences I have had. Some things do not come to light until you have had a firsthand experience with it or with someone involved with it. Achieving the vision Achieving my vision is no small task. The key to achieving my vision is experience. Preparation is great, but nothing is the exact same as you prepare it to be. My masters degree will give me some fundamental knowledge of how to design and prepare for what I will experience abroad, but it cannot compare to the actual hands-on experience.

My plan for achieving my vision is to graduate and then head abroad to work in the communities I hope to change. Finding organizations to work with will be the largest problem along with funding my journey. Organizational research will be my first step into achieving my vision. Hopefully one day, I will be able to start my own social change organization, but I think having some long-term experience in one, is essential for me to learn the inner workings of a SCO and best practices in running my own. After finding organizations that align with my vision and beliefs, the next step will be reaching out to these organizations to find a place for me among their international team. After establishing a place for myself with their international team, ideally, I would go to our location and begin work. I do not have a preference of locations; however, I do speak Spanish, so Latin America would be ideal. I have a growing interest in Africa as time goes on. Africa is probably the continent that receives the most internal aid of them all. It would be a good place to make an impact. The biggest problem with that idea is that I would be coming from a Western perspective. In my research, I find many African countries do not appreciate the forced Western perspectives on their culture. This is where my Masters degree comes in to play. Design thinking and intercultural competency is key to assisting the developing world without forcing my views on them. Something that is key to achieving my vision is how I will choose to interact with the developing communities. Many stories I have heard include solving the problem with the recipients in mind. The most important lesson I learned through my DPMI experience is the evolution of the old fishing proverb: Give a man a fish and he will be fed for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will be fed until the river is contaminated or ruined by developers. Teach him how to organize and he will be able to join together with his peers to solve their own problems. This is how I plan to achieve my vision: training others to be self-sufficient and deal with their own problems. Partners As I plan for my future, I am certain of one thing: I want to work with USAID. I love NGOs, and have all the respect for them. They are the gears that make development work. Engaging local support is crucial in creating long lasting development progress. All of this aside, I think that another crucial piece of development comes from the governments support and aid. Governments typically are the ones with the steady stream of financial capital. They are not dependent on donor dollars to stay functioning. I also believe that the government is the most influential power in development. Regardless of how strong or capable a government is, people still stand behind it out of fear or loyalty. Governments are the ones that can affect the most change. I believe by partnering myself with USAID, I will find myself allied with other influential groups and governments to affect mass change in a chosen location. Measuring Progress Measuring progress is a hard thing to label. It is hard to put a quantifiable measure on impact. Anything that I do, want it to be sustainable. That is the true measure of success and progress if I can come into a community with resources and teach them to be sustainable after I leave. Depending on the length of each given project, I would hope that five years after my time in a community would show not only a sustained practice of what I taught them, but also an improved design based on their own knowledge and resources.

Another marker of my progress would be the actual effectiveness of my project. Did my project actually achieve what I set out for it to do? If it is improving education, then I would like to see results of that. Students staying in school longer and passing their diagnostic tests to move on from on grade to another would be an example of those results. All of this is arbitrary of course; many of these things are outside of my control. For me the steps of achieving my vision begin with graduating from MIIS. This will show me that I have the fundamentals of success. Next will be attaining a position with a NGO that is doing work in education or health abroad. If I can stay with that organization or at least abroad for a couple years, it will be another benchmark of my progress. The final benchmark as of now, that I have determined to be a measurement of my progress to achieving my vision, is obtaining a position as a foreign service officer with USAID.