One of the best things I did this year was become a volunteer for the San Francisco chapter of Room to Read. This non-profit organization focuses on literacy and gender equality education in developing countries around the world. When I first started volunteering earlier this year, I heard from so many fellow volunteers about how amazing the founder’s book was about how he started Room to Read. John Wood’s Leaving Microsoft to Change the World is all about just that and after reading it I was even more excited to be a part of the organization.
John Wood was clearly frustrated with his top-tier job at Microsoft. He felt like something was missing and to clear his head, he decided to take a trek through Nepal. On this trip, he came across a village with scarce educational resources for the children and knew this just wasn’t right – that just because of where they lived, these children did not have access to the benefits of an education they so rightly deserved.
The trip to Nepal changed John Wood. Not only did he go back home and collect books from family and friends for that village but he quit his job at Microsoft too. Leaving Microsoft to Change the World chronicles John’s brave decision to leave his high-paying job and build Room to Read from the ground up. In the past ten years, the organization has grown from tiny headquarters in San Francisco to an internationally recognized organization that has not only collected over 8 million books for 4 million plus children but also builds libraries and schools and funds girls’ scholarships and local language publishing programs in not just Nepal but now in India, Cambodia, Zambia, and South Africa just to name a few of the countries supported on a growing list.
Quitting your job to change the world or even just to travel the world is a brave act. I have read so many stories of travel bloggers writing about how they just want to leave their normal 9 to 5 jobs because nothing can compare to exploring the world, meeting new people, tasting new foods, and experiencing things that change us for the better. However, whether you are a traveler or not, John Wood’s book and work is an inspiration to those who want to focus on more meaningful pursuits in their personal and professional lives.
No matter where you are this Christmas and into 2011, there are multiple ways to support Room to Read:
Purchase the book! Proceeds benefit Room to Read.
Join a chapter! There are chapters all over the world for you to donate your time to.
Donate! Visit Room to Read for ways to donate to a girls’ scholarship or the building of a library.
Visit Room to Read’s Get Involved page for more ways to help out, no matter your time or financial limits.