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Liisa Antola

ESC International Volunteer

I am Liisa and I started my ESC journey with Sculpt in August. Despite how much I would like to start by telling a story of humane connection that led me here instead of technology, the real reason I found out about the program is all thanks to the Instagram algorithm. I have considered myself a true global citizen for a long time now, and so does my phone apparently. When Instagram knew me well enough to advertise volunteering opportunities for young people abroad, I was immediately intrigued. Although, the two Master’s degrees and long list of work experience on my CV did not seem like the usual path for a youth volunteer placement, my curiosity bypassed the rational voices in my head.

The ad popped up on my screen while I was living in California. I had recently quit my stable permanent job in my home country of Finland due to a value misfit and was looking for a new direction in my life. Although California and the entrepreneurial program I was part of at the time were great (and weather much sunnier than back home), it was not the right time to begin a company of my own. Instead, I had a strong urge to join an organization with activities that would have the potential to satisfy my altruistic needs that had until now taken a back seat in my life as a business student. After reading the ESC project description for London, I knew that Sculpt would offer me exactly that.

The more trips around the sun I have witnessed, the more aware I have become of the inequalities of this world. Most nights they keep me awake as I try to figure out my own place in all of it. I used to focus mainly on my own direction and goals and how my career reflected the expectations set by my prestigious business bubble, but the places I have lived in and the people I have met have made me painfully aware of the extent to which I have won in the lottery of birth. This realization is what drives me today. I want to make a change in the world, and I genuinely hope I can do that by holding the microphone to other people with the privilege I have and carry with me until the day I die.

Sculpt has so far been a great environment to do this. The project topics we are engaged in feel more meaningful than I could have ever imagined. Moreover, living in London has been an accelerator for understanding people from other backgrounds. I love how international our team is, not to even mention how diverse the entire city is. I take great pride in talking about my volunteer placement at a charity with every person I meet in the city, most of whom have come here in the pursuit of making loads of money. Without an exception they have all been surprised by my choice to give up a steady income to pursue an opportunity in helping others and making a change, and that will be the seed of thought I hope to plant in the heads of each person I encounter here.