The Power of Social Media

The realm of social media is one among many things I never thought I would learn during my service in the Peace Corps. I have always enjoyed being connected to the greater world. Even when I didn't have easy access to Internet, I still diligently updated this blog to share my experiences with the world. My blog led to encouraging messages from many readers. At a time before my projects took shape, I was glad to still achieve goal III of the Peace Corps.

Months later, I was convinced to explore the world of Twitter, and became connected with a plethora of interesting people. My interest in social media really took off when Laurent Enzo François emailed me for an interview for his blogs in English & French. I talked about the irony of living without running water yet have Internet access. Through the interview, I began to realize I can use this connection to the world to promote my projects.

I am still new to the fascinating world of social media. After my vacation in June/July, I began exploring ways to utilize this new tool. Through Twitter, I connected with a friend from college. We hadn't talked in a long while, but since she is a PR expert, I turned to her for help with writing press releases. Later, she gave me the great idea to collaborate with classrooms and comes the creation of Classroom For Cameroon, and Campus/Community For Cameroon. Colleen talked about her experience helping Africa from her little home in St. Louis in her blog.

Last week, I read an inspiring article about Beth Kanter and her effort to raised over $3,000 within 90-minutes to send a girl to college in Cambodia. The idea was similar to mine - to motivate many people to make a small contribution. The difference is Beth has been building up her social network over the past 5 years, and I've only been on the scene for the past 5 months. Nonetheless, I was inspired. $3,000 in 90 minutes? There should be no reason why I can't raise $8,000 in 30 days.

Everyday, I am learning the struggle that comes with fund-raising, social media, and the like. Perhaps along the way, I offend a few people when I bombard the world with updates about my project. But the important thing is learning to not take it personally. After all, I am building libraries for African kids, not selling people things they don't need. Some days I have nightmares about not getting the project funded and I will leave Cameroon not building even one single library. Yet other days like today, I face the project with great optimism. With just 30 days to raise $8,000, it's lucky that those optimistic days occur far more frequently than the nightmares.