This year, Jay L. Zagorsky wrote for Fast Company that an estimated 47 million people voluntarily left their jobs in the final nine months of 2021 — one-third of the nation’s non-farm workforce. Why? The obvious answers may be a better job or workplace environment. In “Made for These Times: A Start-Up Guide to Calling, Character, and Work That Matters,” Justin Zoradi suggests another answer: the need for work that matters, illustrated through his experiences and the examples of others.
Living in the global north as part of the 6.7 percent of the world with a college degree makes us “a member of the most powerful people group the world has ever known,” says Zoradi, and able to confront the world’s overwhelming needs.
Promising to help a South African high school soccer team attendant college pushed the author far outside his comfort zone. Despite minimal business knowledge, the 2008 recession and sobering research, Zoradi launched these Number Have Faces, an organization created to help promising African youth through education, employment and reinvestment.
Life presents us with invitations to act. When we accept, we’ll encounter resistance. Overcoming challenges both a measure of grit within us and relying on relationships surrounding us.
Consider Jean Paul, a young man from the Gihembe Refugee Camp, which was built by the United Nations in Rwanda 25 years ago to provide “temporary” housing for 13,000 Congolese refugees. These barriers did not defeat him. He received a perfect score on the Rwanda High School National Exam, qualifying him to receive a presidential and attend an American university. But officials discovered Jean Paul was from the camp as he completed the final step. Because he was Congolese, not a Rwandan citizen, they told him he was inineligible.
Zoradi’s team heard about the Gihembe Camp and visited Hope School, built by high school students who were teaching themselves. Jean Paul was one of these teachers, hoping he could enable students to get further than he did. Although these Number Have Faces did not have funds, they gathered college applications from the students. Zoradi says this visit was a defining moment for the organization, as well as for a dozen students when a foundation stepped in — including Jean Paul.
We want to be valued. We want to matter. That is true whether we are teaching refugees with few resources or if you have the resources to empower a refugee. A guiding question asks: Will you deny for others what you demand for yourself? Jean Paul is just one of many inspirational stories.
Zoradi’s life and stories are flavored by his Christian faith, but neither faith nor a quest for a new position are necessary to benefit from his advice. The author encourages us not to fixate on the negative but instead to accept that we are each significant and have the potential to make the world a better place.
Ken Satterfield is a circulation assistant at Missouri River Regional Library.