Tuesday, September 1, 2009

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.

5 comments:

Kayley said...

It is truly amazing how so much money can be raised for good causes, thanks to social media.
It is rather strange that there can be internet access in an area where there is no running water. I didn't know that this was happening in the world. I enjoyed reading your blog, and good luck with your project.

BBat50 said...

Wendy, I wish I'd followed your blog from the start of your stay. I was just looking through your initial posts.

When I was in Cameroon, working telephones were a rarity. There was no TV and locals would brag about whether they had ever seen a VCR or not.

It's hard for me to imagine Cameroon with today's technology.

John
RPCV
Sangmelima 1980-82

Anonymous said...

Wendy. Allow me to congratulate you on your idea to fund bi-lingual libraries in Cameroon, and I trust you enjoyed a good event yesterday on September 8th.

Social media and social networking are important tools for a PCV to grasp. Keep up with your efforts, including blogs

BBat50 said...

Wendy, check out http://www.Facebook.com/john.edelson and Facebook/spellingcity.

This should help a little.

dibussi said...

Check out my presentation on the "State of Social Justice and Digital Media in Africa" delivered at Rhodes University in South Africa - http://tinyurl.com/l859qz - It contains a few tips on how to use social media for social advocacy.

www.dibussi.com