The Initial Inspirations & Background
Taylor Krauss - An incredible individual I met through my equally amazing friend, Alison Furman. He's the catalyst that kick-started my desire to go volunteer. I was introduced to him at a Cinco de Mayo party in NYC back in 2007. We talked about his work and I was immediately inspired and interested in the non-profit organization he started, Voices of Rwanda. After hearing about this, I was like, "Wow! That's really admirable, I wish I could do something like this..." At the time, I could not visibly conceive of leaving my current job as Senior Conceptual Designer at American Eagle Outfitters because of various reasons.
We met again in the beginning of April after he returned from Kigali. It was hard not to be captivated and become impassioned by his spirit and focus. This time an idea came to me in the form of The Pangaea Project. I had wanted to do something like this for a while, but had not been able to fully realize a project where my involvement and cooperation of my friends and associates would have so much potential to succeed. This kind of opportunity sounds once in a lifetime...I realized that I need to go for it now. So, I seized the day and put in my request for a 3 month sabbatical from AE on April 21, 2008. (Sabbatical leave was granted on May 16, 2008).
Cliffe & Erick - My two children I've sponsored in Western Kenya for the past 2 1/2 years with Plan USA, a non-profit organization that specializes in helping children and their families in poor communities around the world. I wanted to visit, meet the families, establish a relationship and see if I could be of further assistance to them in the future.
AE Better World - Many thanks to The Company and The Foundation for their support during my sabbatical. After 5 1/2 years of commitment to AE, I have taken to heart AE's philosophy of "A Better World". This has inspired me to look beyond my current job description to give back to society and focus my energy on these rewarding and fulfilling experiences. If I don't maximize my 3 month hiatus, I feel I will be doing myself and others a huge disservice.
Oprah's Big Give - Great show! More reality shows should take a page out of her book. It has inspired me to think, "What would Oprah do?" and be more resourceful and value personal relationships.
Mr. Robert Hiller - An exceptional history teacher I had during my middle school years at Stanley Intermediate School in Lafayette, CA. He taught me that there are 2 types of people in life. Ones that watch life go by and ones that change the lives of others.
Raabiya Hussain - She was a wonderful friend that showed me life is precious and don't waste time sweating the small stuff.
My Grandmother - Her Independence and Strength. She did what she wanted, when she wanted and didn't care what others thought.
These people, organizations and ideas on this blog (and following blogposts) have inspired me and I hope that they might inspire you as well.