America's Unofficial Ambassadors

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.

AUA Webinar with Jessica Alexander, Author of Chasing Chaos

Jessica Alexander

By: Joelle Peikes

Communications & Outreach Intern

On May 7th 2014, at 12 pm EST, America’s Unofficial Ambassadors is excited to host a special webinar with Jessica Alexander, author of Chasing Chaos: My Decade in and out of Humanitarian Aid. Jessica’s new book chronicles her experiences as a humanitarian aid worker in Rwanda, Darfur, Sierra Leone and Haiti, offering a strikingly honest account of the real challenges, heartbreaks and small victories of her service in the field. To register for the webinar, email stefanc(at)creativelearning.org.

Jessica will also be hosting a February 4 webinar on DEVEX, titled Life in The Field, Careers in Humanitarian Response from 10-11 am EST. You can register for that webinar by following this link to the DEVEX page and following the instructions.

“In Chasing Chaos, Jessica Alexander serves up a sharp critique of the multi-billion dollar humanitarian aid industry, wrapped in a tender coming-of-age story. Her quietly evocative prose recreates the painful, poignant, and sometimes hilarious experience of marching into ‘the field’ of armed conflict and disaster to relieve suffering, supported by donations from those who expect heroism. With remarkable honesty and empathy, Alexander reveals how absurd and presumptuous it is to imagine we can fix the world and, even more profoundly, why we must continue to try. An important book.” —Sheri Fink, New York Times bestselling author of Five Days at Memorial

Jessica gave a discussion on the book on October 21st 2013, at the New Ridgefield Library in Ridgefield, Connecticut where she also gave a reading and answered questions from the audience. Watch here on CSPAN.

During the question and answer portion of her talk, Alexander offered her insights on what makes an aid worker effective and gave her critique of the international humanitarian aid system. Local communities and civil society groups, she noted, know how to help themselves, while outside aid agencies can provide the means to empower them to accomplish their goals. Helping the communities they serve to maintain their own sense of agency in meeting their needs whenever possible, she added, ensures that the work aid organizations do will have a lasting impact and lasting benefits.

For unofficial ambassadors, Jessica’s story offers lessons and insights they’ll be able to carry with them into their service abroad. While her work is an inspiration, her honest firsthand accounts also reveals the nature of international human development programs and the real world factors at play in service abroad. Follow this link to learn more about Jessica’s book and hear what others are saying.

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