I live each moment for the next, in search of the new big thing, of a new adventure, but seldom reflecting on the defining moments of my past. Recently I was faced with the shocking realization of the 9th anniversary of my Global UGRAD experience. In August 2011, a younger Shantal took an airplane for the first time for an adventure that would change her life. Writing this while looking through the window in my flat in South Korea, I am sure I would not be where I am if not for a 10-month experience in a little town on the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware, within the beautiful and diverse Lincoln University.
In the USA I learned the value of diversity and how to celebrate people’s differences. I also learned about the struggles for equality and the search for one’s identity. At Lincoln, the first U.S. HBCU, I met students and teachers from all over the world. I talked with Amish farmers while buying fruits at the local market, and encountered the large Mexican community of workers coming to Chester county to work on the mushroom farms and at local businesses. I had the opportunity to shadow the local representative in the State Congress, where I witness an interesting discussion on upcoming law projects. Those experiences nourished my love for international development. Today I work at the Green Climate Fund, managing contributions from developed countries to foster climate adaptation and mitigation projects in the developing world.
My life’s journey will soon lead me to another big adventure in Germany, to support impact investment projects in developing countries around the world. But before I move on, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on where it all started, at a small university in Pennsylvania with the smell of recently cultivated mushrooms.