By Karley Kiker
By the time she was blowing out the candles on her 30th birthday cake, Hockaday alumna Kimberly Haley-Coleman had already earned an MBA in international business, worked as the VP of business development for a Houston-based aerospace company, and done more international traveling, connecting, communicating, and strategizing than most ambassadors.
And yet, would you believe it? Her mission to take on the world was just getting started.
"I grew up traveling with my grandmother and family," Haley-Coleman recalled
Years later, after accepting career opportunities that required globe-trotting, "I would find myself abroad over the weekends, and I'd done so much tourism growing up that it lost its intrigue." A long-time lover of volunteerism with a background in nonprofits, Haley-Coleman attempted to start volunteering in countries where she was already traveling for business purposes - emphasis on attempted. Due to her short-term availability, “Nobody wanted me.” But she wanted them - the people living beyond the tourist checkpoints, that is. And so she founded Globe Aware, a nonprofit that's been sending volunteers to countries all around the world for short-term service projects since 2000.
No matter the project emphasis, the purpose of each Globe Aware trip is twofold: to offer aid without changing culture, and to teach sustainable skills.
"If you're able to give two-and-a-half years, you will learn much more about that culture," said Haley-Coleman, who has traveled to 75 countries. "It's not that [Globe Aware] is the only way or the best way- it's a way that's accessible to people who otherwise aren't able to do this ." Take high school students, for example - in particular, the kind who really want to help, but only have a few weeks of summer to spare.
"This was really the first time I'd done anything like this," incoming Hockaday freshman Amelia Brown said of her recent Globe Aware trip to Peru, from which she returned in early June. "We have so much and we live with so many luxuries [in America] - they live with so little but they're all still really happy. Everyone basically relies on each other." Sophomore Ashna Kumar came away from the service trip with similar impressions.
While she has volunteered locally by tutoring and visiting hospitals, projects such as installing pipelines in Peru and renovating a boarding house proved to be completely eye-opening experiences for the Hockadaisy.
"I really appreciated all the stuff that we have at Hockaday and in Dallas, and all the accommodations we have here," Ashna said. "I never realized that there are people actually living in huts. I obviously knew that, but we just have it so great here." There's a difference between knowing facts and statistics about third world countries, and experiencing the poverty and the need firsthand. The latter incites a revelation that Haley-Coleman, who graduated from Hockaday in 1988, can still relate to.
"Going to a school like Hockaday - even living in Dallas - it's hard to understand the level of privilege that we experience," Haley-Coleman said. "People go into [Globe Aware trips] thinking they might save someone or help someone.
Really, we're working side-by-side with individuals in the community." Not to mention, with each other. Despite the fact that Ashna didn't initially know any of the other Hockaday students who served alongside her in Peru, "We all became really close over the two weeks we were there. We bonded in a different way than we would have at school."