We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Here’s a nice article from today’s New York Times by David Brooks. It is good to see stories that remind us that part of the beauty of service is the sacrifice and humility involved. Part of the volunteer experience, particularly in the developing world, is being knocked from your comfort level, forced to re-evaluate positions or perhaps realities that you believed to be true, and challenged to respond and contribute something of value. Success on this front is why I think so many of us choose to volunteer again and again.
I liked that Brooks’ column also acknowledged that one American (or any other national for that matter) can’t swoop in like superman and save things. Local leaders and citizens hold the key to their long-term development solutions. If we as volunteers in development are successful, then we support those leaders with our resources, technical expertise, and other intangibles as they craft community level solutions. At America’s Unofficial Ambassadors, we think there is a lot we can do to be supportive in this way and to dispel stereotypes in the process.
Last thing, the volunteer that Brooks mentions didn’t have to google “Teach Abroad.” She could have just searched the AUA Directory to find some terrific opportunities to teach English in schools, orphanages, and youth centers across the Muslim World.