Many of you know my degree is in International Relations. Early on I was a passionate student of languages and cultures, and was bitten by the travel bug at age 12 after a trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco with my grandmother. By senior year in high school I was studying Spanish, French and Italian (forgoing chemistry and physics…), and in college I took Mandarin Chinese, organized international student orientations, studied abroad…you get the picture.
My dream was to one day work for the UN, as my intention and mission in life was to contribute to world peace (I simply didn’t understand why people and countries couldn’t get along just because of race, religion or anything else), so that was a seemingly logical goal. Who grows up wanting to be a career/life coach? Like so many professions today, that didn’t even exist when I was a kid! Ah, but the Universe has a funny way of working things out.
Once I discovered that being employed by the UN did not ultimately fit my skill set or desired environment, I set out to create my own international experiences — teaching middle and high school Spanish, working and traveling with an upscale educational tour operator, teaching Tourism Destinations and Cultures at NYU, and founding my own mini-version of the UN called The Women’s Mosaic, bringing together women from different cultures and backgrounds to learn from and be inspired by one another.
As a result of that creation, I got hooked into the UN, met several times and received praise from Kofi Annan; have attended many of its conferences (I still get verklempt when I am in the auditorium wearing an earpiece…); and before any of this, without consciously trying, ended up living in the very neighborhood where the UN headquarters is situated! So for my entire adult life I have been surrounded by diplomats and their missions, sharing my coffee shop, gym and grocery store with them 24/7.
Fast-forward to more recently, as my interest and passion for personal growth, empowerment and healing, along with my ability to relate to just about anyone, combined with x-ray vision, supersonic hearing, and broad knowledge base of industries, careers and other resources have combined to make me into this very interesting and profoundly effective person I will call a career/life coach for lack of a better title. And I have been helping people professionally in this capacity for over six years [at the time of this writing; now it is over ten!]
Last week I had a big “aha moment” after a Skype session with a new client in Hungary who had attended one of my talks while here on holiday. Although that was only my second international call, I realized just how diverse and, yes, global my clientele is! I have worked with well over a hundred from all backgrounds — whether foreign nationals visiting or working here temporarily, or folks who came to live here as children or adults. They hail from Macedonia, Italy, Puerto Rico, Mexico, New Zealand, Dominican Republic, China, Taiwan, Nigeria, Canada, Australia, El Salvador, Russia, Japan, Philippines, and Israel and they embody the many diverse ethnicities and religions found here — African-American, Haitian, Indian, Persian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Quaker, and so much more; many of my clients have accents, as English is their second or third language! So DUH, here I am using my degree in international relations yet once again, simply in another form. Pretty cool, huh?
I share all of this not just to illustrate how the thread of my interests and passions have run through everything I do, but also for this: My work with individuals only confirms my theories, thoughts and ideals about countries and humanity as a whole. The more I learn and observe intimately the intricacies of all these seemingly different folks’ journeys and backgrounds, the more I see the hard evidence of how we are all wired with the same desires, dreams, hopes and challenges. No matter what corner of the globe you are from, we have far more in common than you can imagine.
Think you’re so special? You are. You have a uniqueness that you bring to this planet. But you are also made of the same stuff as that guy or gal across the ocean or sitting next to you on the subway. And because of things like technology and climate change, we are more interconnected than ever. So this week take a moment to expand your horizons: Who can you learn about, chat with or help in some way that is out of your normal sphere of influence? How can you Imagine your world for the better? What can you do to think globally but act locally?
Not sure how the micro in your life will affect the macro? Give me a buzz and we’ll translate the language of your soul to see how it will weave into the tapestry of history and become that much-needed piece of the peace puzzle we are all a part of, no matter who you are or where you come from.
(Today’s PGG essay originally published on www.kristinaleonardi.com on September 25, 2013)
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Read more about me and my work in these past PGG’s: