Friday, 3 June 2011

Little Drops of Water make a Mighty Ocean

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. I’m a firm believer in this phrase. There are many people who hold positions of leadership and influence who do little or nothing with it. There are also people who go about their daily lives, making huge impact on the people around them. You can be the King of the World and have nothing to show for it. But you can also be a teacher, a custodian, a family doctor, an artist, an engineer, whatever, and change someone’s life.

It’s all about starting small. Making someone smile. Being someone’s friend. Beginning a movement.

By putting all of yourself into what you do, you unconsciously inspire others to do so as well. Imagine, if you will, that you are a tiny flame. Even if it is the fire burning from a match, it still gives off light. That light touches people you greet on the street, the elderly woman you help step onto the bus, the awkward high-five you give a baby in a stroller. I bet you that the person you just interacted with, 9 times out of 10, will make someone else smile that day. Have you ever seen the movie Pay It Forward? Well, it’s like that. It totally happens.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is out light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson         (also known to be quoted by Nelson Mandela)

I’m seeing it all around me lately. In Ghana, it is all about spreading light. Everyone I talk to has others in mind. The graduating students especially! There is so much ambition, potential and compassion among people, and it gives me hope. Hope for a better future.

Take my counter-part, the brilliant lecturer, Ishak. He implemented a program that allows students to realize their potential and discover the options they have in the future. Everyone I have spoken with looks up to him, as do I. He had an idea, and it has spread throughout the college, and to another one in the north. This, is the power in giving all or yourself.

I was reading a document from Voices of Youth and the World Association on Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, discussing a conference for girls from a number of countries (developed and developing) from a around the world. Its focus was education. A participant from Canada said, “The very fact that there are good teachers who teach and are role models for their students will institute changes in the community through either the teacher, or the students who were inspired by them. People do not realize how important teachers are based on the impact they have on those they teach and influencing a person.” I thought of Ishak as I read this. His influence on his students is immeasurable.

As for the title of this post, wanna know where it came from? A student. That’s right, in one of the concept papers I read, a student used this proverb when talking about entrepreneurship and the impact it can have. Talk about teachers inspiring students!

And now it’s time for:


For this challenge, I’m going to ask you to do something hard. And I’m not talking calculus or chemistry hard either. I mean something real, and something that will push you outside your comfort zone.
The next time you’re on the bus, waiting in line at the grocery store or chilling at your local watering hole, I want you to talk to someone. Not just a “Hi, how are you?”, but really talk to someone. You may meet someone who is not down to talk, and that is okay. They may be having a bad day, or might be distracted by your dashing good looks. Try again. If you have seen the movie Patch Adams, Robin William’s character talks about dialling a random person and having a conversation with them for 3 hours. Okay, I’m not asking you to do that, but the point is the same. Everyone has a story, and I bet after talking to someone, you will feel inspired inside.

Or if you don’t think you can do this, try calling up a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. See how they’re doing.

If you are brave enough, and are successful, I’d love to hear about the conversation! If you feel like sharing that is. And I could totally bring you back something for this challenge too! J

I think I’m going to leave it there for today. If you have any questions, or want to take a look at the document I referenced, holler at your girl!

Later days,


*Also, please note that these are not the opinions of Engineers Without Borders Canada, nor do they endorse anything referenced in this blog. These are all my personal statements and opinions. 


  1. Great to hear that things are going well at Kwadaso, despite the tough timelines. Looking forward to hearing more about your work. As for the challenge, that is a tough one, especially in Canada! Defs pushes the comfort zone...

  2. Hey Daniela,

    I love this post. I really like the quote, and the way you're really interacting with people around you, asking tough questions, and searching for those gems of people in Kumasi.

    As for your challenge, I tend to do this often, much to the chagrin of my friends and bus-mates (people I know on the bus prior to talking to other people on the bus). I had a really interesting conversation with a man from Sudan, who came to Canada with his wife and children while he studies at Mac for his Masters. I forget what program he was in, but I do remember how he lighted up when I began to speak to him in an African accent, and then ask him questions about things he would be familiar with, like compounds, multiple wives, and other things, joking around. People were kind of creeped out because we got into a pretty rowdy conversation on the bus, and my friends were like, "I don't know this guy", but it was fun nonetheless. I really enjoy doing this. I also did this another time, and found a really neat recipe for hummus, and met the same guy later, and talked for about 20 minutes that next time, about what he did for work, and his views on healthcare in canada. It was pretty neat also.

    Keep posting challenges. I enjoy them!