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Comfort Sampong '18

Academics / Departments & Programs / Global Development Studies / Careers & Outcomes / Alumni / Comfort Sampong

Current activities: Communications Specialist at the Association for a More Just Society
Major: GDS and Economics

Can you describe your path since graduation?

After graduation, I moved to Honduras to work for the Association for a More Just Society (AJS), a Christian NGO dedicated to reducing violence and strengthening weak systems in the country. I am daily inspired working next to my 130 Honduran colleagues - lawyers, psychologists, accountants, and other professionals - who teach me what doing justice looks like. My role at AJS is as a Communications Specialist who brings these stories to a North American audience. On an given day, I may be writing a newsletter for supporters, giving a presentation to visitors, helping with a grant application, or gathering statistics for our advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C.

What sparked your interest in global development?

During high school, I learned that a singer I admired was an ambassador for the International Justice Mission, a global organization working to end slavery. I didn’t know that we were still profiting from ongoing oppression, and suddenly I wanted to learn all I could about a new, hopeful word that looked like the solution: justice. As I explored and read books about everything from gender equality to microfinance, I felt a growing conviction that I was called to contribute to this movement somehow. Imagine my surprise and delight when I applied to colleges and realized you could study all those topics together in global development!

How has your faith influenced your work in development?

While I was learning and getting involved in international causes, I was also reading my Bible like never before and discovering a whole new aspect to my faith. I had always felt uncomfortable with the idea that God doesn’t care about our lives here on earth, but I was afraid to challenge it because I had never met people who were pursuing justice because of their faith. For the first time, I read verses saying God commands us to choose love over fear (1 John 4:18) and I spent time with people who believe that our service on Earth is connected to the Kingdom of God. Their faith strengthened mine and inspired me to make hard decisions in choosing love over fear as I got more involved in justice work.

What is your most memorable experience in the field?

Every year at Calvin, I actively participated in the Faith & International Development Conference, first as a volunteer, then as a co-director, and finally as a proud ‘grandma volunteer.’ Where else can you have so many brave, inspirational minds from all over the world discussing the savior complex or the importance of choosing hope? I am grateful that the FIDC also strengthened my knowledge of U.S. justice concerns, like immigration, because I believe “we’re not free until all of us are free.”

I’m going to cheat in my answer and also pick my time on the justice semester in Honduras. Those four months learning about everything from indigenous land rights to unions on banana plantations opened me up to see deep connections between Latin America and West Africa - connections that now inspire my work at AJS. The way I see justice was also heavily influenced learning how individuals and organizations worked day-to-day while living in community.

What advice would you give to current GDS students?

Working in a non-governmental organization now, I am blown away by the variety of ways to serve- from finance to communications to care for beneficiaries. Take advantage of classes, other majors/minors, research opportunities, and internships to explore your particular interests and how they can be of service. Do you want to tell dignifying stories? Look into writing for Chimes and learn from podcasting and journalism. Do you want to be a community advocate? Participate in the events of organizations working for justice in Grand Rapids and learn how they listen. Through it all, keep an eye out for what it means to not only do the work, but also to live justly and out of love. The way we live will sustain us, humble us, and endure no matter what job we have. And definitely volunteer for FIDC - you’ll meet amazing future colleagues and be inspired to hope and work for a more just world.

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