Did YOU intern abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Matthew: I did intern abroad! I was an economic development intern in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There were a few things that motivated me: One thing was that I'd done a study abroad program in Spain the year before, and I while I'm happy I went, I wasn't happy with the "touristy" aspects of the experience. I wanted to travel, but I also wanted to do something more meaningful and less self centered.
Another was that I'd been learning Spanish in school for several years, and I knew from my experience in Spain that there's nothing as effective as total immersion when it comes to language learning. I was looking forward to living in a heavily Spanish speaking area after graduation, and I knew that being bi-lingual would give me a leg up on the job market.
The last thing I'll mention is kind of cheesy, but still true: I wanted to make the world a better place. I knew from a young age that people have dramatically different economic opportunities depending on where they're born, and I wanted to do what I could to tilt the scale toward fairness.<?p ??>
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Matthew: Successful companies have to do a lot of things right, but the biggest single factor is that they provide a needed good or service. For FSD, that means tapping into the enormous (and growing) appetite for effective philanthropy.
People are aware of and disturbed by global inequality and the problems that development work has historically faced; that means that the need for FSD's fair-trade learning and asset-based community development is huge.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Matthew: I've found that the more languages I know learn and the more cultures I engage with, the deeper my understanding becomes, on both the macro and micro levels. When you learn your second (or third, or fourth, or...) language, you see how different constructions can reveal or conceal intentions, responsibility, and assumptions. It's impossible to engage with another group's culture without reevaluating your own understanding of history, morality, and beauty; the more deeply you engage, the more penetrating your insights.
What language have you always wanted to learn and why?
Matthew: I've always wanted to learn Chinese, and for a couple of reasons. In my personal network, there are probably five or six of my close friends who are fluent Chinese speakers, and I want to be able to share that learning and communicating experience with them.
I can see how the commitment and shared interest has brought them closer together, and I don't want to miss out! Then, I'm also well aware of the sheer number of Chinese speakers in the world.
So many! I'm uncomfortable being unable to communicate with such a large portion of the global population, especially as the country becomes more friendly to foreign visitors, businesses, and NGOs.