I spent the summer I was 17 in a tiny village in Ixtlan, Oaxaca. Technically, I was there as a latrine construction volunteer, but I'm positive I received more from the experience than anything I had to give. Getting a peek into the way millions of people in developing countries live around the world, and trying to understand my fortune and role in the world, indelibly shaped my worldview.
It also made me hungry to learn and try to do more. I returned to Latin America a few summers later to work on a microhydroelectricity project in a remote part of the Dominican Republic, and then again two years later to gather and share information on oil development in indigenous territory in the Amazon.
These experiences lent another, powerful dimension to my storytelling, highlighting its capacity to change hearts and minds as well as to give voice to people who might not have otherwise been heard. One of the greatest honors of my life was receiving a Kurt Schork scholarship, which honors journalists who report on conflict and injustice, often at personal risk. While I'm proud of the journalism work I've done, I believe there is much more to do.
In 2018, I will be sharing several new stories about positive change: about those who are creating it, and those who are in need of it, and how people can get involved. If you'd like to follow along with these stories, you can join me here.