Michael's introduction to globalization, at least as he then understood it as a Communications major at a small Liberal Arts college, came while studying abroad in Australia, sitting with roommates from Thailand, Botswana, Sweden, and Australia laughing uproariously at an episode of The Simpsons (involving Homer, a boot and thick Aussie accents).

Fast forward a few years to Isiolo, a small town in Northern Kenya, where Michael was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching HIV & AIDS at a Deaf school. Isiolo was divided between Muslims and Christians; nomadic pastoralists and farmers; wealthy politicians and homeless street children. It was a dynamic environment influenced by local, national, regional and international agendas. This was the other side of globalization; though the Simpsons was still on TV in the huts.

During the Peace Corps, Michael was interested in how technology could be used to further educational achievement and so he formed a Peace Corps Task Force to facilitate the nationwide coordination and production of Deaf education and low-literate visual aid materials, including student created short films, sign language posters for parents and hospitals, and interactive software. The Task Force distributed these materials, directly reaching over 6,000 students, parents and caregivers at 20 schools and organizations across Kenya. Members of the Task Force worked with Liverpool VCT to help expand opportunities for Deaf students to be tested for HIV by Deaf community leaders, partnered with Global Deaf Connection in offering training for Deaf students at Machakos Teachers College in the creation of visual aid materials and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education created an enhanced HIV/AIDS curriculum with interactive lesson plans. Although Michael’s service was cut short due to political violence, the Task Force was identified as innovative and replicable as part of the Peace Corps’ ‘New Frontiers’ initiative.

After the Peace Corps, Michael worked with refugee resettlement in Chicago, focused on educational and cultural adjustment programs. He also acted as the in-office Kiswahili translator. It was a perfect transitional job back to the US that was unfortunately cut short due to lost funding in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Michael recieved his MA from UC Santa Barbara's Global & International Studies program in April of 2013. Michael was driven by his desire to understand complex, interdependent problems arising from globalization by engaging in a multi-disciplinary approach; to become an effective solver (both theoretically and practically) of interdependent problems. Michael focused on development issues within East Africa.

His thesis focused on the challenge of sustainable development in an emerging Africa and how to negotiate between increasingly complex competing views and interests. This is especially relevant in the face of rising global risks. Michael used a case study of the ongoing construction of the LAPSSET Corridor megaproject in Kenya to highlight the complexities and intersections of competing interests. He focused on the relationship between the Government of Kenya and a transnational coalition called Save Lamu (with whom he spent four months doing field research). The lens of exploration was reflexivity, a self awareness (both individual and collective) that involves reflecting on and reacting to previous and ongoing developments. He argued that understanding the process of development, with reflexivity a central condition of this process, helps us explore the complexities and intersections. Knowing the interests of stakeholders and how they intersect helps point us towards how these interests may be balanced. The result is a precautionary approach to development which leads to sustainable development.

Armed with his MA, Michael took a position with FTR to continue to strengthen his communications skills. He is now looking to put his myriad skills to use in creating positive change through organizations which share a similiar global outlook.
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