Years ago, a speaker issued a challenge that impacted me: “Given who you are right now, how can you best make a difference in the world for good?

The first day I met "Karla," she was sitting at a table in a class I was substituting. Her eyes were big and fearful of this strange American teacher who had just walked in.

Most of China's population live in large, modern cities full of skyscrapers, newly built highways, and modern technology. But in the rural villages of central and western China life is very different.

This time of year I’m reminded of how life springs forth from the dry and barren ground and from trees that appear to be dead, like they will never come back to life. This reality reminds me that new life is always preparing to emerge unexpectedly from whatever loss or death I'm experiencing.

"So, why should I join IDEAS?" I love this question. In fact, I never get tired of it because it is the exact question a possible volunteer or long-term Associate should be asking. 

Recently while in Jordan visiting some of our IDEAS Associates, I was reminded of practical ways to be a respectful guest while visiting or working in a country outside the U.S. Here are some travel tips that will make you a welcome guest.

There is loss in leaving, and adults come to know it quickly. Experienced overseas workers learn how to make immediate friendships, grieve good-byes, and move on to the next wave of arrivals. There is a cycle, and most of us are transient. You get used to it.

One evening, 17 years ago, I was out walking my dog, and I began processing my life. That particular evening, I started thinking about my calling and my future.

Why do I work? Am I having an impact? Is my work worth something? These are questions we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. We want to know we are working towards something more than just a way to earn a living. That our work has some greater value. When I took a position in Jordan with IDEAS, I had no idea how important these questions would ...

We asked an IDEAS Associate, who recently began working with our refugee project in Cyprus, to share how serving refugees has transformed her life.