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  1. here goes nothing

    January 16, 2012 by anisa

    Well I’m on my way, and I couldn’t leave without a post to get things started. The last month has been a full-on whirlwind of putting my Seattle-life into storage, packing my Africa-life into two suitcases (I dare you to pack your next year into a suitcase), getting travel immunizations, starting to work remotely, drinking ridiculous amounts of Seattle coffee, and spending as much time with friends and family, over some of the best meals I’ve had all year. Some days it felt like I was living someone else’s life… but today I’m on a plane to Africa, and today, I know this moment is mine.
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    Last week I left Seattle to spend time at the Clinton Foundation headquarters in Boston. The Boston offices are a stomping ground for both local and global staff, and I was lucky enough to pass through on a particularly eventful week. While Bill C wasn’t there himself, I was able to meet colleagues who were in town from all over the globe. I quickly realized that I’m working with some of the brightest and most talented players in global health, and that I’ve got my work cut out for me. I look forward running hard for the next 12 months to keep up with them.
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    Another reason I needed time in Boston was to work out the details for a visa to Kenya. Getting a work permit in South Africa wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be, so I’ll be starting out in Nairobi. I’m equally happy to be going back to Kenya for the time being, and feel good about starting out in a place I’ve been to before. Plus, to give you some context about how much I’ll be traveling this year, my boss (who is meeting me in Nairobi) hasn’t been to her home base of Nigeria since November. We’ll see how much time I actually spend at my home base. In any case, I’m still just as excited about Kenya as I was on the day I first applied for the job.
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    When I was looking through jobs this past fall, this was the one that made my heart skip a beat – the way that a good conversation can inspire you to act, or a piece of music can take your breath away. The way you feel after you push yourself to do something you didn’t imagine possible. Like the rest of us, I’m seeking moments like this – where I can find purpose and joy, in its simplest form. Not just professionally, but in all parts of my life. I went through a lot of change in 2011 – and I spent much of my time dwelling on uncertainties, instead of navigating my way through them. I’ve come into 2012 seeking calmness amongst the impermanence, and attempting to live ever so presently with my choices. Getting this job has been the catalyst for my attempt to live mindfully, but I recognize the rest is up to me to take, day by day. I know this year is not going to be perfect. I know that I will make mistakes. That there will be days that I will be uncomfortable and I will want to come home. But that’s fine. I am excited about the possibility to grow, to learn, and to refine my purpose.
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    So here’s to a new year. A new job. A new home. A great adventure. To constant revisions.

    And to being wide awake through it all.

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  2. Rainn Wilson: actor, comedian & philanthropist.

    November 18, 2011 by anisa

    When I saw this tweet, I knew it was going to be a good day:

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    So here’s the real reason he’s sitting behind the box office. There’s only a couple hundred spots left for tomorrow night’s show, and ticket sales benefit The Mona Foundation – a charity that he and I are both pretty passionate about. The Mona Foundation supports grassroots educational initiatives by partnering with existing schools and educational institutions and funding specific projects or needs, such as this one in Brazil. Whether it’s building a library, or expanding clasroom facilities, or providing student scholarships, the call for help is great, and the opportunities to serve are equally immense. I’ve been volunteering with them since 2004, and have had the pleasure of serving alongside some pretty inspiring people, including Rainn Wilson.

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    backstage after last year’s benefit. the paramount theater 2010.

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    We know him to be goofy and socially awkward on The Office. But in fact, he is one of the most thought-provoking and socially responsible individuals I’ve met. I am constantly blown away by how generous he is with his time, as well as his drive to give back, stay humble, and work hard.

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    If you can snag one of those last few tickets, I’ll see you tomorrow. 

    Thanks to Banyan Branch and STG for co-sponsoring the event.

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  3. new beginnings

    November 16, 2011 by anisa

    I’m launching the blog today, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s been a long-time coming, and I’m feeling particularly stoked that the new blog is coinciding with a new job. After 3 years with the City of Seattle, and 5 months of freelancing in social media, I’ve accepted a position with The Clinton Foundation’s Global Health Access Initiative. For me, this has been one of the most deliberate career moves I’ve made, as it finally gives me an opportunity to combine my background in public health/community medicine with the nonprofit sector. Not to mention, it gives me a chance to live in a part of the world that I love tremendously: Africa.

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    Oh yah, did I mention the job is an international post based in Johannesburg?

    (Watch for some very entertaining check-ins on FourSquare)

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    I first traveled to Africa back in 2004 with 3 of my best friends to build a library in the small village of Takaungu, Kenya. We were very humbled by the experience of living in this community, and I have never been quite the same having spent time in that part of the world. My deepest moments of discovery, reflection and joy have been on African soil. I saved every penny I could in college in anticipation of going back, and have since made 2 subsequent trips to the continent working with Better World Books and The Mona Foundation.

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                                             kenya 2004                                                                                       ghana 2005

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    I know that living in South Africa will be quite different than the adventures I had when I was in college – there is little that can rival that time – but it definitely feels like I’m headed exactly where I need to be right now. In a strange way, while I have moments where I feel sad to leave Seattle and all the people who make my world go round, I also couldn’t be any happier if I tried.

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    I’ll be using the blog to document my travels and (mis)adventures while working abroad. You’ll probably get a dose of what is keeping me inspired and challenged as I attempt to find my way, with grace, gratitude and humor.

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    So here goes nothing.

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    Welcome to my journey.

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