Small tree, big shadow: rural experiences with global potential

By Amy Bartlett

Like many kids growing up in rural Canada, I know how inspiring it is to feel like you are a part of something bigger and wanting to contribute to that ‘long arc of history’ bending towards justice—and yet at the same time, I also know how intimidating it can feel to be clueless about how to get involved and build a career there.

Back in the 80s and early 90s when I was growing up in rural New Brunswick (which was *gasp* pre-internet!), it was a challenge just to get a sense of what was happening outside of my small town let alone the province, the country or the world. Added to this was the lack of personal connections and contacts in that space. However, despite this remoteness and disconnectedness, I still felt compelled to build a career connected to the global social justice sphere—and so build a career, I stubbornly and yet happily did.

The internet has opened up so many opportunities for exploration and connection, but for many women in rural Canada, some of these fundamental challenges remain. For me, the reality is that because I grew up relatively disconnected from the larger world, I hit lots of unexpected bumps along the way on my path to building a career in global social justice. But I have also learned that because I grew up in a rural community, I came to the global space with a lot of resilience and some unique perspectives, like:

  • I learned that gestures can be big or small, but that it is very possible for one person to make a mark and have a positive impact on others
  • I experienced first hand the strength and power of an interconnected community; and
  • I embraced the learning, confidence-building and creativity that comes from small-scale experimentation opportunities

I am excited to be part of supporting a new generation of rural Canadian woman leaders through Global HERizons—so that hopefully those inevitable bumps and challenges are more mole hills than mountains— but I also know that rural women are already poised to accomplish amazing things in the world.

The bottom line: Your experience of living in rural Canada has equipped you with a set of unique and invaluable tools and experiences that are essential to building a better world.

What are you bringing to the table?

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