My journey

Each stage of our lives is important. Each stage makes us who we are in a very special way. I divided my life into the following 5 stages, for easy reference, but also because some shifts occurred at the beginning of each of them.

From 0 to 10 years of age

I was born in Germany, in 1976, in Frankfurt am Main. Two years later, exactly two years later, my younger sister arrived and thus my family was complete with my mother, father and my sister. Memories of this stage are related to nature in a nice house in a very small village, where we were able to spend many hours outdoors, in the garden, on the streets or in the fields, and do some sports, such as gymnastics and athletics.

And then there were books. Even though I remember having a hard time starting to learn to read, I very quickly became very fond of reading and at some point even set up my own private library.

From 10 to 20

The picture above is from my last year in primary education in Germany. At the age of 10, secondary education starts. And things started to change quite a bit as far as my performance was concerned. From being an A student, my grades turned into Cs and even Ds, being one of the areas I struggled most with foreign languages. Outside of school, nature, sports, books and also music – I learned to play the clarinet – continued to be cherished companions.

But the major shift of this stage took place when I was 13 and my parents decided to move to Spain, in the hope of finding a less stressful environment for a happier life. The awareness of what this meant for me evolved over the years, as with so many other events but, however difficult the beginning of this new life was, it was one of the most important steps which I am most grateful for.

Spain would not be the only country I lived in during these ten years. For my last year in high school, I was able to obtain a scholarship and spend one year in the US, which was determinant in my decision to go to university. My choice fell on Granada and a degree in translation, because it had turned out that I was not so bad in foreign languages at all.

From 20 to 30

Granada, Spain, and Strasbourg, France, are represented in the picture above, the two cities where I spent my university years. After graduating in translation, in four languages, adulthood and the corresponding responsibilities started to make its first appearance. Even though I had loved my studies, I soon realized that being a translator did not suit me, so I finally began to work in a bank on the Spanish east coast where many foreigners needed help in their languages.

The responsibilities of adulthood were covered easily with this job, but something I now call curiosity, but which I called nonconformism for many years, took me over. First I decided to go back to university and study an online degree in East Asian Studies. Then I moved to London for some months which was not the right place for me, so I came back to Spain and back into the banking business.

From 30 to 40

But my curiosity had just gotten started. For my 30th birthday, I traveled to China, which had been one of my passions since the age of 10 (as far as I can remember, according to my mother, it started when I was 5). And a few months later I moved there with the main goal to finally be able to fluently speak Chinese. During the two and a half years of that stay, I started to work as a language teacher.

After coming back home, aka Spain, professionally I moved from banking to teaching to starting a company in fashion with my then-boyfriend. I continued studying, first a master’s degree in teaching, then psychology because I started to become aware of the importance and the influence my inner world had on my life in general.

This process of inner reflection had started before, but slowly took overhand during these years and the more I learned about myself and understood my past, the more I realized that I needed a much more profound change in my professional life to be aligned with my values.

From 40 to …

So, yes, of course, I took a yoga instructor course in India shortly after my 40th birthday to continue the inner journey. My outer journey started to find its unifying thread in sustainable development. First around sustainability in fashion and the Economy for the Common Good. Second, around the Sustainable Development Goals which I understand as a universal language we all need to learn, understand and speak.

I also learned about new methodologies that helped the teacher in me to find tools I considered necessary on this global journey of collaboration and iterative learning, which even combined the inner and the outer world in a process of reflection and action.

So, here I am, preparing the next steps of my journey looking for the others to transform our world.

The journey of Sustaining Development

In order to be able to reach a world of Sustainable Development, we need to take into account the following two key elements.

The first one is that the concept of sustainable development is also closely related to human rights, human values and human responsibilities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document of the UN proclaimed in 1948, mentions in its first Article the main ingredients of our rights, values and responsibilities.

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Each of these ingredients is important and lie at the core of Sustainable Development. Let’s take for instance the definition of “dignity“: the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect. This means that each of us is worthy of honour and respect, and is therefore directly linked to the essence of Sustainable Development and the respect towards our needs and those of other people, be it in the present or the future.

But what does this exactly mean for our lives and life styles? Are we aware of the interconnection of our actions on a global level? How can we take steps towards this future?

My answer stems from the second main aspect of Sustainable Development which is the name of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Transforming our World. To take steps towards a better future, we need to transform our world, and to transform our world we have to start with three concrete areas:

Transforming ourselves

This is of course a very personal issue. And not necessarily an easy one, but surely a very fulfilling one. To transform ourselves implies many steps and probably may start for each person at a different point, but I am quite sure that, for all, it implies greater awareness. One aspect which helps to gain this awareness is knowledge and a broader view of the world. The data and stories you will find here are intended to assist in achieving this broader worldview. This has to go hand in hand with a change of our mental structures and our habits, certainly a process we have to commit ourselves to. A process that becomes easier when we start to be conscious about the challenges we are facing and that we actually can do something about them.

Transforming companies

Companies are one of the global players that have a huge impact on the SDGs. Many already know this. Many are starting to take action to help improve the situation. Many are not sure where to start. And many are actually unaware of the SDGs. The same as in the case of transforming ourselves, the integration of SDGs is a process. First, of course, we need to be aware of their existence. Once we start to be committed to implement a change, Design Thinking and Lean Methodologies offer great tools to start the journey together with others.

Transforming education

Education is already undergoing a profound transformation since we are realising that the structures that were implemented in the past, do not serve our children to face the challenges of the future. New methodologies such as Project-based Learning, cooperative learning, or theories, such as the importance of emotional intelligence, are turning students into active participants of their own learning process. Sustainable Development includes new knowledge that has to be integrated into the curriculum and linked to what children are learning and their daily experiences, to empower them to live in the future that is waiting for them.

To be able to take the adequate steps and learn along our journey, I will share the main ideas and insights we can extract from the SDGs and how to integrate them into our lives. Let’s start the journey!