Archive for June, 2013

Now into June…

June 7, 2013 - 2:15 pm 1 Comment

Alas, it’s been a while since my last update! So much has happened in the last few months – I’ll do my best to summarize.

Art for  a Cause Gallery Exhibition: We raised nearly $18,000 for the DoGoodAsYouGo Foundation! Held at AppNexus gallery, we celebrated the art and photography of talented students around the world, while enjoying Mexican food and drinks. It was a real pleasure working with Alice, Jay, and Katie – I’m incredibly inspired by the ingenuity of leveraging traveler networks to train and assist communities around the world. Similar to Givology, the organization looks for sustainability of impact and empowerment of the community through grassroots bottoms-up efforts, rather than top-down externally imposed. The NYC chapter really worked hard to pull the event together, including late night gallery hanging sessions to 2 AM and e-mail blasts out to thousands. Katie and Alice really have a talent for detail – the painstaking efforts to hang the artwork and create little signs for each individual piece really paid off with an impressive final result. I like the motto of the DoGoodAsYouGo Foundation: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But, if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mind, then let’s work together.” Click here to check out some of the art pieces that we featured at the gallery exhibition, and to purchase your prints today.

UPENN 5th year reunion: I had a fun time going back to Philadelphia for a weekend to celebrate my fifth year reunion. The reality is that not much has changed – everyone still looks the same and typically continues on working in the same industry. Furthermore, despite being five years out, I don’t feel that disconnected to university life because of all our Givology campus chapters and the influx of college students who join our team each year. Regardless, I truly enjoyed connecting with friends that I haven’t seen for years (some flew in from Asia and the Middle East!), as well as walking around the city. Notably, we attended some interesting panel discussions held by older classes at Penn that featured the stories and life experiences of social entrepreneurs, biomedical ethicists, neuroscientists, and urban developers, to name just a few. I certainly feel no nostalgia for college life – I enjoyed my classes (perhaps too much..) and delighted in my extracurricular activities, but I’m more eager to see what the next five decades bring. The pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong endeavor requiring no structured institution, but yet, there’s just something truly unique about an environment for open debate with the sole purpose of learning in it of itself, rather than a means to an end. Between the class picnics and receptions, I just had a great time.

Penn Microfinance Conference: The conversation of microfinance has certainly evolved – I remember when I attended this forum as a student in which microfinance was presented as a panacea for global poverty. How the sentiment has shifted! It was an honor to be invited back to present on the Microfinance+ panel, focusing on the links between microfinance and education, and to judge the social pitch competition. I’m truly impressed by the students who I met and the commitment on campus to bring social entrepreneurship to the forefront.

Princeton Social Enterprise Conference: Just like at Penn, the interest in social entrepreneurship has really skyrocketed, with more students willing to take a risk and pursue a different career path. In the seminar that I conducted, more than 85% of the attendees were working on their own launches, the majority technology based. I enjoyed the keynote speech by one of the co-founders of Code Academy, and his reflections on best practices and lessons learned – mainly people management. Just as I’ve discovered with the Givology, it’s so important to set the right culture and to understand what motivates people to give their time and best effort. We’re still improving our own internal processes, but in the years that Givology has grown, my role has shifted from partnerships and day to day management of our web content to just making sure that my team is engaged.

Launch of #giveinspiration campaign: Creative design can be a powerful force for change – art can be used to inspire people to think about their impact of the world, and to convey a powerful message. We’re in the process of building out our archive of interviews with artists/designers, and collecting the iconography that will be used for our product launch later this year. If you know of someone who is great for this project, please let me know!

Visit home for Dad’s birthday: It’s always such a pleasure to go home and spend time with my parents and sister. For my dad’s special birthday, I got him a heavy tome on Gravitation (his latest phase before Betrand Russell). We went to see 33 Variations at the Little Theatre in Alexandria – the story was really thought-provoking and interesting – and then went to celebrate at midnight with shaved ice and frozen yogurt. I love the experience of going home – even though my mom forgets my age and insists on treating me exactly the same way she did ten years ago, it’s sometimes nice to forget all my responsibilities and just enjoy being with everyone together.

Ice hockey in NYC: I joined a team since I missed playing too much. My skills have atrophied, particularly stickhandling and passing. My poor skates have also disintegrated into a form of Frankenskate (had to get the holders replaced, and also a new bottom for the skates since the interior rotted). Yet, still fun to play, even though I wish my games didn’t start at 11:30 PM EST sometimes! Ice hockey in NYC is so expensive – costs about $50/game + $40 for round-trip transport by taxi. Alas, it’s my one big spending splurge here.

Oh! And here’s a youtube video from our last Katra event, filmed by our talented Media Director Liza!