Near the end of the Masters in Business Administration program at WVU, everyone started buzzing about their new jobs as bankers, financial analysts and sales representatives. I was excited to tell people about my decision to share my business knowledge in other parts of the worlds, where their economies were most in need of a boost in business development. I got used to some of the confused looks and less than genuine smiles of approval. (“Wow…that is so great…so you won’t be getting paid?”) What I had not yet figured out though, was what to put on that blank line on all the papers in the months ahead. “Occupation: ___________.” No longer could I play the student card. I guess I could put “volunteer,” but what does that mean anyway? It’s so vague. I resolved to leave it blank for the time being. The Malawian customs officer called me out on it though. “Miss, you forgot to fill out this one,” he said. “Oh! How careless of me!” I responded, and proceeded to fill in “Vice President of International Relations.” (Hey a girl can dream, right?) I pretended not to notice the surprised look on the officer’s face as he mentally evaluated whether that was actually possible given I look about 16 years old.

It wasn’t until a few days ago when I was instructing 120 Malawian adults how to construct a business plan and perform breakeven analysis that I discovered a solution to my little identity issue. During the question and answer portion of the seminar, one of the young men asked me what business I was in. I had a brief moment of anxiety. I was about to reveal my inadequacy…definitely a loss of face. But before I could respond, our gracious Malawian translator responded, “Our friend Natalie is in the business of giving. What other questions do you have for her?”

So there it is. I’m officially in the business of giving. Thus begins my year-long journey to dream, discover, live, learn, share, care and hopefully help others to do the same. As for the fill-in-the-blank dilemma, I have since noticed the ChildVoice organization chart included my name with the title “Technical Advisor- Business” underneath. Not quite VP, but somehow I like my title even more.

Beautiful faces