I do believe in serendipity. I am about halfway through a biography of Jack Ma called Alibaba. As a philanthropic advisor and now living in the Asia Pacific – I have been curious about him and his work for some time.The Ma and Morley Scholarship program. When it reaches full capacity will support 90 students annually who are from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and this who are tindigenous scholars. The scholarships are merit based and emphasize global and social awareness. Scholarships will range from one-off opportunities to living expenses of up to $AUD15,000 per year for the duration of a degree. All of this is significant in terms of scholarship assistance and providing enough scholarship support to truly impact a students university experience – including “comprenhensive engagement and enrichment opportunities”. The program will build global friendships and would not just be smart people, but as Jack said, “ambassadors for responsibility, courage and wisdom.”
This gift is a classic story of fundraising cultivation, engagement, remembrance and giving. In his words,
“The scholarship will honour the special relationship I formed with the Morley family. I am very thankful for Australia and the time I spent there in my youth. The culture, the landscape and, most importantly, its people had a profound impact on my view of the world at that time.”
After meeting the Morley family in 1980 on their trip to Hangzhou and helping them on subsequent trips back – afriendship formed and went beyond to mentorship. Ken Morley, who died in 2004, helped Jack learn English and provided support for his university education. He was Jack’s “Australian Dad”.
This gift places Jack Ma in the upper echelon of philanthropy in Australia. The scholarship is large enough to impact individual students and generous to support many students. The impact of the scholarship will be felt for many generations. And it was given in the true spirit of philanthropy – to help others and remember a special time, place and people who had a tremendous impact on Jack’s life.
Before he left Newcastle to open the Alibaba offices in Melbourne, he thought about how else he might remember his time with the Morleys, Newcastle and Australia.
“Twenty-six million Australian dollars, it’s big. I think I should do more in the future.”
Spoken like a true philanthropist investor – looking toward the future.
I’ve been in Melbourne a year now – and between the move overseas and the election it’s been quite a year. Needless to say, the results of the US election is part of any conversation in any part of the world – including Melbourne. And with the latest diplomatic slug at Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, the pitch of conversation keeps getting higher. Like citizens everywhere, Australians and US citizens in Melbourne and other cities stepped out to add support and bodies to the unprecedented Women’s March in DC. This has led to a continued Australian action and reaction through permanent groups including expats from all over and Australians.
Then there was another conversation which I have not personally experienced, but been told by others and read on social media. The gist is,
“If you’re concerned about the US why are you living here?”
Wherever that “here” may be and the tone is judgemental or caring depending…….
Expats are living overseas for many reasons – none of anyone’s business. The reason I am writing this post is to share – no matter where you live – if you are an American citizen – you have a voice and opinion you can share. Social media and online tools make it easier than ever.
There are actions US citizens overseas are taking to support immigrants, tell Congress what we think, forming groups of people (expats and not) to create a collective voice, signing petitions, posting on social media and more.
In my case, I have formed a group of people interested in voter registration and get out the vote. It is the place I come from in my political experience and believe it makes a difference even more so overseas. After a couple weeks of FB postings, comments and way too long Messenger threads – on Saturday expats and dual citizens gathered in my home and via Skype from Melbourne, Sydney and Los Angeles to discuss our options. We all agreed every election between now and 2018 is vital – local, state and federal elections. And we read about how US voters overseas can make the difference in any national election. And in 2018 the census and redistricting will begin. We will go where the potential voters are – first voter registration drive – Super Bowl party at Crown Casino Melbourne!
In 2014 there were 5.7M US citizens living overseas – 2.7M were 18+ and eligible to vote. In the 2016 elections 600,000 US citizens abroad voted.
The last 2-4 weeks before the November election was a challenge with expats trying to register or vote before it was too late – not all succeeded as there are different requirements in every state or county to voting or registering to vote from overseas.
We agreed this is a problem and all had personal or social media stories of absentee ballots not received, websites not working, voting age children unable to register. There is also the same apathy in the overseas folks as at home – “It’s too hard. I always forget to ask for an absentee ballot. Oh, I can vote when I’m living overseas?”
This dedicated group of people agreed to act and do. While we’re many thousands of miles away from our native homes, we know we can make a difference and have chosen to do so. We’re in it for the long haul. Watch this space and FaceBook as our work starts and begins to build.
2017 is starting off with a bang. December 22 I started a vacation that took me to Bangkok cooking classes, resting at the beach in Hua Hun, New Year’s Eve overlooking Antarctica and a foodie and museum tour of Singapore. I am grateful to Wendy Ong and Sanjeev Jayasinghe – fellow fundraisers and CASE Institute alumni – who moved part of my Thailand experience to the beach and for hosting me. I am grateful to be able to take a travel vacation. I’ve got a great life that has led exactly to where I should be in 2017.
Gratitude will be my theme. Enough with the “first world problem” complaints. Wendy and I talked about a Campaign of Attitudes at work and home. Our positive attitudes will shine on our colleagues and be reflected back. We have chosen not to go down the negative path or be drawn into challenges without solutions – immediate and thoughtfully. We’re calling it a Campaign of Attitudes and we will be leading by example.
Then on day one of 2017 Chris Brogan and Seth Godin posts appeared in my inbox at the same time. Their posts always show up when I need them most. Their timing is impeccable and I’m grateful for that.
Seth talked about choice –
Attitude is the most important choice any of us make.
Chris reprises his “My 3 Words” exercise.
Choose 3 words we can use to guide us forward to more success in the coming year.
I am grateful for the simplicity and ease of their suggestions and counsel. Less complication is good.
I am working on my 3 words and attitude. If I feel my choices and attitude can inspire or assist you, I’ll share them here and on my social media accounts.
For now I’d like to say thank you for reading and sharing my posts and wish you all you want in 2017 – knowing you can make it so if you choose.
Future plan no more than 6-12 months – focus on values clarification. Allows for more flexibility with opportunities, experimentation and see what doors open and people come my way.
“What we have to fight, the chaos of nature, per Gonzales, is this: our brains. Our ability to manage our impulses and also to be present mentally to find solutions even if they mean ignoring previous training.”
Clear boundaries and expectations.
Clear and coherent job descriptions.
Evaluation, weekly meetings, structure.