The Kroc School Teaches Determination, and That is More Than Enough
Friday, March 8, 2019TOPICS: AlumniChangemaker
The following post was written by Kroc School alumnus Michael Duffey.
As an aspiring peacebuilder in the Master of Arts in Peace and Justice program at the Kroc School, all I really wanted to do was make a difference, somehow. I always knew that my career would need to revolve around attempting to make the world a better place.
I remember daydreaming about what my future might hold: maybe it would involve crafting policy with all of the analytical skills I would learn. Maybe it would involve writing detailed reports promoting sustainable development projects all around the world. Or maybe I would teach peacebuilding at a university, passing on the knowledge to another generation of peacebuilders. Would I ever have envisioned that my career would include some aspects of all of the above AND involve driving a forklift, driving a box truck, and learning the logistics of international shipping? Absolutely not.
To elaborate, I work for an organization called Rise Against Hunger. We coordinate large-scale volunteer meal packaging events that result in the creation of tens of thousands of highly nutritious rice- and soy-based meals. We then ship these meals, almost 300,000 at a time, to struggling regions all over the world. We also promote sustainable initiatives in the regions where we serve. Our ultimate mission is to assist in stabilizing the regions, and thus ensuring self-sustainability. For this to be successful, my colleagues and I must master the art of coordinating massive amounts of volunteers, conveying the purpose of our mission concisely and effectively, and making sure the meals are prepared to international health standards. On the back end it also requires the ability to manage a warehouse with perhaps millions of meals in it, coordinate the shipping of all materials while abiding by international law, and, of course, doing all of this while adhering to OSHA regulations (easier said than done). In essence, it requires a diverse — and perhaps eclectic — set of skills.
I often think back on my time at the Kroc School and how the things I was taught prepared me for what I do now. At first glance, it may appear that they did not. Of course, there wasn’t “International Shipping 101” or “Forklift Driving: the Art of Pulling Levers,” or even “How to Explain Global Food Insecurity to Rural Virginians: An Exploration” available as electives. But that doesn’t matter because as peacebuilders we adapt to whatever the needs are. As any former or current Kroc School student can attest, every professor of the School has said that there is no single way to approach peacebuilding and that it requires a “multifaceted” approach (props to Dr. Necla Tschirgi for leaving that forever embedded in my brain). Adaptability, nimble learning, and the willingness to learn and do what is necessary to succeed in our roles are ultimately what will change the world. The constant encouragement to go out and do the good needed in the world, even if we don’t feel completely “prepared,” is what the Kroc School teaches, and that is more than enough to succeed.
I love my job. And I don’t think I ever would have ended up working for this wonderful organization if it wasn’t for that drive that the Kroc School instilled in me. I’ll never forget in my interview, my future boss looked at me after I had just finished giving a detailed explanation of my knowledge of food security in the world, complete with copious examples of food injustice peppered with statistics, and stated, “Wow, I’m impressed by your knowledge and passion. Can you drive a forklift?” I’ll admit I was taken aback; I had literally never even been in an industrial warehouse (unless Costco counts) let alone operated heavy equipment. “No,” I responded. “But I’m more than willing to learn.” That willingness was enough. I was hired and have been enjoying every minute of it since I started in 2017.
The last year at Rise Against Hunger has been especially successful. My colleagues and I shipped 3,694,680 meals to the countries of Mozambique, Madagascar, eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Haiti, and Nicaragua. We facilitated over 200 Meal Packaging Events throughout Central and Southeastern Virginia, and we engaged almost 100,000 people by speaking with them at events, inviting them to visit our warehouse, and through simple word-of-mouth. But most importantly, we impacted 1,404,110 lives. As I sit in my office writing this piece, with nearly 100,000 meals behind me, ready to be shipped, I can’t help but feel incredible pride in what I do.
Without the drive and determination that was taught to me during my time at the Kroc School, I would not have the privilege to even feel this pride in my day-to-day life. So if you want to make a difference in the world, choose the Kroc School, they will help you do that. And one day, when you’re faced with diving head-first into a role you never-in-a-million-years thought you’d be doing, know you’ll have the courage to do it.
At the Kroc School, we are educating for peace. Ready to join us? Learn more about the Kroc School's graduate programs.