A useful and anecdotal manual for those who wish to work for international nonprofits.

HOW TO BE AN AMAZING VOLUNTEER OVERSEAS

RULES OF THE ROAD, STORIES FROM THE FIELD

A guide to volunteering in other countries that offers welcome touches of realism along with idealism.

In her debut, Gibson, a longtime microfinance consultant who’s served on numerous boards of nongovernmental organizations, offers the reader a book that’s part memoir and part volunteering primer. The book begins with an introduction by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Prize–winning economist who developed the system of microfinancing; Gibson first began volunteering in this field, which led to a career in international development. The author draws on her extensive experience, offering anecdotes, letters, and diary excerpts to show readers how they may have a meaningful and safe experience working overseas for nonprofits. This book is full of everyday advice for international volunteers, although some of it is fairly obvious, such as dressing for the weather, showing respect for local mores, and being careful regarding water and uncooked food. In fact, the advice on eating locally may well be discouraging to vegetarians, vegans, or people with other dietary needs. However, there are other bits of advice that a reader may not have considered, such as simply listening to a favorite song for easy self-care. The book is also fully up to date as far as Covid-19 safety considerations. Although this work is strongly based on the author’s experience with microfinancing, this book will be useful for would-be workers in many other areas of international development, and it’s full of suggestions for how to get your foot in the door of such organizations. Gibson offers especially good advice about doing homework on NGOs to avoid a mismatch between oneself and their missions. Overall, the book is skillfully organized with chapter summations and plenty of links to other resources.

A useful and anecdotal manual for those who wish to work for international nonprofits.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-988025-69-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Barlow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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