The founder and director of Everyday Ambassador, an organization to combat digital isolation, provides wisdom for those interested in making real and positive impacts.
Otto, a longtime activist, begins by revealing a crucial epiphany that inspired her to write the book. Upon meeting a group of new volunteers in Indonesia, she saw her younger self; they harbored the same expectations that they could quickly “change the world” and that their help would be welcomed and appreciated. She explains how she came to realize that foreign volunteers sometimes make a negative impact due to poor language skills and cultural misunderstandings. Making positive societal change, Otto writes, requires meaningful personal interactions, and she bemoans the fact that this tech-savvy generation seems to have lost the ability to form strong in-person relationships. Though Otto is a true believer in the power of digital communication to foster greater understanding of disparate societies, she cautions that it also has given rise to impatient, narcissistic multitaskers. Four attributes are necessary, Otto writes, to become successful everyday ambassadors: focus, empathy, humility, and patience. She explains that EAs don't need to set out to change the world; they can make positive impacts in their own neighborhoods by simply showing kindness and being polite. Otto provides encouragement by sharing compelling stories about what she and others have accomplished—both singly and as members of larger organizations.
Wise, inspirational, and thoroughly readable. (Nonfiction. 12-18)