From Dhaka To Detroit

Thursday, March 19, 2009 | 10:32 AM

Right before starting at Google, I spent another summer in Bangladesh, my family's home country. While I'm always thrilled by the country's beauty and warmth, every moment forced me to put faces to social injustice and poverty. In Dhaka, the global food crisis is more than just a headline or talking point; it's embodied by the boy who dusts the shops across the street, the emaciated man who sells flower necklaces by the highway. As a child, seeing this poverty both confused and motivated me; every time I visited, I left determined to grow up to be able to do something about it.

While most of the work I've done for Google Grants has been more locally oriented, I love addressing the same sort of social problems by being a part of the Grants team here in the American Midwest. Leveraging the power of AdWords, my core job, to spread the word about amazing organizations and their causes is a truly gratifying feeling.

As I help nonprofits set up and optimize their accounts, I get to feel like a part of the cycle of awareness and action that fuels social change. Regardless of whether I'm building an account for a nature conservancy in South Dakota or a homeless shelter in the heart of New York, I feel as though I'm tackling the same problems that bothered me as a child on vacation in Dhaka.

In fact, one of the most motivating aspects of Google Grants is the incredible range of issues, locations, and levels of change it encompasses. Just the other day, I was randomly assigned to optimize an account for the University of North Carolina Dance Marathon, a nonprofit with which my best friend works closely. They raise money for the North Carolina Children's Hospital, and I had been hearing about her involvement with this project for months. In addition to being gratifying on a deeply personal level, helping them get the exposure and attention they deserve confirmed my belief that Grants connects us to others on every level, from people across oceans to the people we've grown up with.

Like most Googlers, I spent a lot of my time before Google volunteering and working on community issues. I can't express how grateful I am to be able to continue to build on my past experiences here at Google. It's all too rare that a person's job and their passions overlap so harmoniously, but that's precisely what Google Grants does. For me, the question is never "Why Google Grants?" but "Why not?"