Starting Over: in Life, Love, and International Development

“What would it look like if we started over?” That was the question that started Hampton Creek, a company founded in 2012 on the mission to reimagine the broken systems that make our world go around. In food, with a philosophy of “starting over” at it’s core, Hampton Creek has taken the world by storm, proving that a new way to think about our global food system is possible.

The next global system Hampton Creek is tackling is education, starting in Liberia. Beginning my role as Education Movement Lead back in September, I thought it would be the education system in which I would be “starting over.” I have come to realize that in fact ‘starting over’ is the only constant in my new life in Liberia.

In Life

I have always been someone who has relied on my network in order to achieve success in my projects. But now, having moved my life to Monrovia, Liberia, on a one-way itinerary, I have to start over. Moving to a new community, a new country, a new continent, my social network is nonexistent. But starting over in my personal life, who I am? And who do I want to be? In my first few weeks in Liberia, I have found myself to be more open to conversation, more willing to go on spontaneous adventures with strangers-turned-friends, and in more uncomfortable situations, than ever before in my life.

In Love

And as I start over as a 22-year-old working ‘professional’ in West Africa, there comes a strange comfort with the fact that I’m not just visiting Monrovia, Liberia – this is my new home. I will be here anywhere between one and five years, open to the whims of project progress in a country as complex and corrupt as they get, yet a place I am slowly falling in love with. After having moved around so much in my post-university entrepreneurial wandering across North America, I now may even be settled enough to get into a long-term relationship– currently low on the priority list but being settled in a city for longer than 5 minutes does indeed open up the possibility.

In International Development

I spent four years of my life studying all of the reasons that the international development industry does not work. The most fascinating revelation I have come to in my first weeks in Liberia is that I have the opportunity to fundamentally start over in how international development is done. I am at the helm of a project that has the power to impact people’s lives, and set an example of what would happen if a private sector company got into the business of changing the way humans think about eradicating poverty. No pressure, right? Luckily, I get my energy from pressure-filled situations.

So, what would it look like to start over? In education, but also in life, love, and international development, I am about to find out.

 I’d love to hear in the comments section or @TaylorQuinn92 on Twitter: What would starting over look like for you?

Shadow at Hotel Africa
Photo: the incredible Henrik Lycke. Experiencing life atop the abandoned Hotel Africa with my new Swedish friend Julian on one of my most memorable early adventures in Monrovia.

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