It is not always clear how one person can impact the world, but recognize that sometimes by changing oneself and maybe one or a few people, individuals and communities can improve. An article in the Fletcher Forum, the newsletter for the Fletcher School of International Law & Diplomacy, by Alan Solomont, might catalyze our thinking about how to begin along that path. He is a former United States Ambassador to Spain and Andorra, and now is Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. In the January 2016 Forum article he states, “I see global communities grappling with two major trends. On the one hand, there is a growing sense of urgency about the state of democracy and civic engagement in the United States and around the world. Simultaneously, we face seemingly intractable transnational problems like racial injustice, climate change, food insecurity, epidemics, refugee migration, and internal displacement.”
As we all know, the challenges indicated by Dean Solomont are not solvable in the short-term with a handful of people. But he believes, “These challenges are interrelated and call for innovative solutions. I believe there is vast opportunity to apply the concepts and methods of civic engagement and leverage the assets of individuals and communities to, ultimately, have a direct impact on these and other global challenges.”
At Tisch College, he is leading a team to work on these issues, guided by beliefs in the importance of active citizenship as well as the responsibility to develop the next generation of active citizens.
So even if we Boomers don’t plan to seek an encore career doing projects in a developing country, we might consider helping local high schoolers or college students to expand their horizons. Might we volunteer in classrooms to provide real-world experience and hopefully insight into the new global economy, in subjects like social studies, government, civics, economics, and related after-school clubs or projects?
Or might we research online to identify non-profits that are having impact on an area of interest to us also involving young people, and then determine how to support these organizations through volunteering? Junior Achievement, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and many others would appreciate our imparting our skills and expertise to their young people.
Sometimes helping others expand their horizons can vicariously and directly expand ours.