The Freedom Year Trend Starts with the “Globals’ Generation Focuses On Experience”

Hopefully, the ‘Globals’ will push a change in corporate America.  Americans need to develop the so-called soft skills:  global mindset, culturally curious & intelligent, as well as speaking another language.

Someday, the talk at the water cooler won’t just be about leaving for maternity or for your MBA.  It will also be expected to take a Freedom Year (sabbatical) to travel, work, and volunteer abroad.

Go Globals!

Cheers

Anthony

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Globals’ Generation Focuses On Experience

by SAM SANDERS
(Original Article via NPR.com here)

Jennifer Larr (center), 24, is seen here in Rwanda at the Gashora Girls Academy where she was a teacher in 2011. Larr is part of a new generation of young adults focusing on travel, studying abroad and global experiences.

Courtesy of Jennifer LarrJennifer Larr (center), 24, is seen here in Rwanda at the Gashora Girls Academy where she was a teacher in 2011. Larr is part of a new generation of young adults focusing on travel, studying abroad and global experiences.

Jennifer Larr has the itch to go abroad. She’s 26 years old and has already spent a year studying in France and two years in Rwanda with the Peace Corps, and she is headed to Uganda this summer for an internship. She’s also a graduate student, studying international relations at UCLA.

Larr is part of a growing number of 20- and early 30-somethings whose American dream has moved beyond suburban homes and traditional nuclear families, and it’s one that now goes even beyond U.S. borders.

Larr and others like her are more likely than previous generations to live, study and work abroad. As they travel the world, they’re now abandoning some of the traditional tenets of the American dream that their parents held dear.

National pollster John Zogby has been chronicling this trend for years. His book The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream discusses some of the changes taking place in Larr’s generation. He has a name for young people like her: “first globals.”

They understand this idea of a shared fate, or a linked fate. That somehow, what happens to somebody in Mumbai may have an effect on me in West Los Angeles.
– Franklin Gilliam, dean, UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs

“Two out of three of them have passports,” Zogby says. “They are well-traveled; technologically they have networks that include people all over the world. They have a desire to be nimble, to go anywhere and to be anywhere. They also have a desire to change their world and feel like they’re in a position to do that.”

It’s a generation just as likely to watch the World Cup as it is the Super Bowl. It’s not, however, just the children of the wealthy and the educated, says Zogby. “This is expanding beyond the Wellesleys and the Stanfords,” he says. “It’s different now.”

There are a few reasons why. More than 270,000 students studied abroad in the 2009-2010 school year, according to the International Institute of Education. That number is three times what it was two decades earlier. At the same time, the Internet and social media have made every part of the world seem instantly accessible. America’s youth is just more diverse — and international — than ever.

On top of being globally minded, Zogby says, these first globals have a different perspective on the idea of ownership as a tenet of the American dream. They are putting less emphasis on accumulating traditional things like homes, cars and the types of families their parents had. Instead, they’re putting more energy into acquiring experience.

Larr, for instance, says she can do without the house and the kids.

“People will always rent you apartments wherever you go, [and] not every woman wants to have a child and be a mother, and be in the house all the time,” Larr says.

She could even do without the marriage.

“I’ve been in a really long-term relationship, and we’re really happy the way we are. We can be committed to each other without necessarily having someone approve it,” she says.

Zogby says that all of this is reflected in his research, and that much of what made older generations tick just doesn’t work for first globals.

“The permanence of owning things doesn’t exist,” Zogby says. “The permanence of living somewhere doesn’t exist. The permanence of getting a job and holding on to that job for the next 40 years doesn’t exist.”

For many of these first globals, the idea of public service is a common thread. La Mikia Castillo, 28, recently graduated from USC’s Price School of Public Policy. Her family is from the U.S. and Panama, and she has studied and traveled in Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

“My American dream is for other people to be able to achieve whatever they want to achieve,” Castillo says. “It’s not really about me and what I have as an individual. It’s about trying to make a difference around the world.”

Franklin Gilliam, dean of UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, says dreams like Castillo’s represent a new way of seeing the world that’s become common among first globals.

“It’s a sea change in orientation,” Gilliam says. “They understand this idea of a shared fate, or a linked fate. That somehow, what happens to somebody in Mumbai may have an effect on me in West Los Angeles.”

Julia Capizzi, a 33-year-old recent USC graduate who is studying for the Foreign Service exam, agrees.

“The larger world beyond L.A., beyond Chicago and my immediate experiences is an extension of me,” Capizzi says. “So I feel an obligation to know what that is. Otherwise I feel like I’m walking around with blinders on.”

Capizzi also says her American dream is better than that of her parents, because she and people like her aren’t afraid to literally go anywhere to accomplish their goals.

“I think that my generation will be more fulfilled than my parents’ generation,” she says.

But she admits that she had to make some sacrifices to live the life of a first global. She doesn’t own a car or a house, and she says she would love to have already owned a house. There are a lot of different parts of her life, she says, that she’s had to come to peace with to pursue her goals.

In spite of any reservations, the Capizzis, Castillos and Larrs are here to stay, says Zogby, as is their new take on the American dream, and it may upend traditional ideas of family and citizenship as we now know it.

“[There are] going to be so many families out there where Papa’s in Singapore and Mama’s in Mauritius, and Baby is somewhere back and forth,” he says.

The question is, what will that baby’s dream be? And will it even be called American?

Correction July 10, 2012

The audio of this story, as did a previous Web version, incorrectly gives Jennifer Larr’s age as 24. She is 26.

Did you ever think about spending your FREEDOM YEARs in the Peace Corps ? If so, read this article by Maya Lau.

Maya Lau
What The Peace Corps Taught Me About Failure
Peace Corps volunteer and writer living in Senegal
Posted: 11/17/11 09:10 AM ET

Volunteer life bursts with cultural faux pas, fruitless projects and second guesses. For two years, I felt like the joke was on me. Even on my best days in Senegal, the sudden scream of “toubab,” a taunting word for foreigners, reminded me that my cheerfulness was jinxed, my presence perhaps unwelcome.

In West Africa, I confronted the toubab version of myself, a self previously foreign to me that was lethargic, cynical and at home with failure.

For a long time I hesitated to admit that I felt incompetent as a Peace Corps volunteer. I felt that if I expressed my suspicion that I was inept, it would confirm criticisms that the program itself is irresponsible and presumptuous. I signed up largely because I saw myself as a go-getter and I wanted a challenge. I have a childlike loyalty to getting things right; I lack a cleverness for bullshitting. Yet these traits, from which I had previously derived strength, became the source of my immense heartbreak.

I did extra work in my demonstration garden only to find out later that agriculture agents resented me for it. I had lengthy, optimistic conversations with a village chief about starting a community garden only to discover that I misread his reaction and that he was, in fact, against the whole endeavor.

costa ricaWhen a project faltered, I wondered if I should blame the cultural difference or my language skills, my lack of expertise or my accidental impropriety. I never knew for sure.

And yet, seeing my confidence unravel was helpful. Maybe everyone needs a period in their lives when they barely recognize themselves.

The story that Peace Corps volunteers like to tell — and Americans like to hear — is one of urgent and awe-inspiring work. Americans like to feel that at least someone is out there fighting all those incomprehensible African problems.

This narrative is too simplistic.

As the Peace Corps celebrates its 50th anniversary, some still find it hard to put a finger on what exactly the program achieves. There are both quantifiable yields, like number of wells dug and trees planted, and unquantifiable gains, like the intimate bonds volunteers make with people all over the world.

One benefit of the program that is never trumpeted (and likely never will be) is that it produces a group of young Americans who understand failure.

Americans, especially the variety who join the Peace Corps, are raised to believe that hard work pays off. We come from a place where the phrase, “We’ll meet tomorrow at 5,” means, “We’ll meet tomorrow at 5” — where you put a stamp on an envelope and it gets delivered.


“Failure is not an option,” according to the locker room poster likely brought to us by the same people who birthed “Impossible is Nothing.” Americans are immature when it comes to honestly accepting failure and maybe that’s why so many of us lack the emotional depth to make sense of it.

We all have failures, yet we bury them in the folds of our pasts as curious gaps in our résumés and cryptic replies to direct questions. If we are unable to emerge triumphant, our failures eat away at us.

My Senegalese comrades are less brittle. They admit freely that their lives are full of fiascoes, delays and disappointments.

When I asked locals in Pulaar how work was going, I didn’t often hear: “Oh, just fine!” Instead, the response was a more honest, “I’m trying, little by little.” It seems to me that growing up with unpredictability has better equipped the Senegalese people to persevere in the face of real obstacles.

costa ricaThe same barriers Senegalese people manage to climb over regularly ended some of my projects. When I tried obtaining a grant for a women’s farm, the land rights had to first be legally transferred to the women themselves. While the paperwork lingered in a government office, I foolishly kept preparing for the project that would never be, blocking off months in my calendar that I would devote to it. Meanwhile, the women moved on, continuing their own, smaller version of the farm they wanted. They knew not to rest their hopes in government offices and the men who shuffle within them.

I don’t mean to give the impression that Peace Corps volunteers don’t accomplish anything. We do a lot of the things other aid organizations do, but our version is less grandiose: We hold small-group trainings on childhood nutrition and organic pest control. We help small businesses grow, often through a series of one-on-one interactions. Our hyped-up expectations of success are often quashed–we learn quickly that smaller is better.

I survived two years in the Peace Corps. My proudest accomplishment during my time in Senegal, one that can’t be expressed on a résumé, is how much I grew up.

I now know that no occupation, despite my generation’s obsession with passion-following, is without compromise or disappointment. And I know that failure, despite its negative connotations, takes practice.

Follow Maya Lau on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mayalau