You would think that as an Atlas Corps Fellow, being around 60 young nonprofit leaders in the world, serving at some of the most impactful nonprofits, would be inspirational. I would be stocked up with motivation and energy for the next 5 years!
Instead, for me it’s often the opposite. The more I learn about social problems around the world—the witch-hunt for the LGBTQ community in Uganda, the rise of sex-trafficking in Brazil because of the FIFA World Cup, corruption and funds embezzlement in reputed international nonprofits—the more overwhelmed I am by them. I want to work my whole life to make this world a better place for everyone. But where do I start? Gender inequality? Human rights violations? Sexual abuse? Political Corruption?
So, rather than be inspiring and motivational, my work in the nonprofit sector often makes me pessimistic and depressed.
Enter the Points of Light Conference Conference on Volunteering and Service in Atlanta, 15-18th. The Points of Light conference this year brought together 5,000 nonprofit leaders from 35 countries around the world to the Georgia World Congress Center for 4 days. The goal was to foster the future of volunteerism and service in our society. As I sat there, during the opening reception of the conference, surrounded by 5,000 of the world’s best nonprofit leaders, I was filled with hope. Certainly, if these many intelligent, committed, and capable people put their minds and hard work together, we can tackle any social issue…and in our lifetimes!
Moreover, Bernice King shared her story. She spoke of her father’s struggles through the Civil Rights Movement. Kweku Mandela held testimony to his grandfather’s fight against Apartheid. The Civil Rights Movement succeeded. The Apartheid ended. And I was filled with conviction, once again. Even ancient, overwhelming social evils like racism, can be brought to an end, if we fight hard enough. We were in the same room with people who had done that once already. Surely, we can do it again!
During that opening reception, I thought to myself that this room, right here, is the center of power in the world today. Everything that will happen to drastically change society, and improve future for our children, will be determined by someone in this room. Will that person be me? I am ready to be that “point of light.”