“A Reflection on Purpose” by Kyle Goeckner-Wald, GHD ’17

I found the Global Human Development Ethics Retreat the perfect opportunity to reflect on the larger questions that frequently become lost in the daily rush of action items, homework assignments, and career concerns. I strongly believe that contemplative reflection and critical self-examination is vital in a sector such as international development. Working in developing countries, particularly as a foreigner, presents daily ethical quandaries and complex challenges stemming from privilege, differences in cultural norms, and the ever present moral urgency to remedy global poverty and alleviate suffering.

I particularly enjoyed the Calcagnini Contemplative Center as the location for the retreat. Being removed from the distractions of daily Washington, DC life allowed the group to critically examine their own beliefs and values and their relationship to the international development sector. Too often I find myself distracted by the happenings and daily stresses of the city and lose sight of my broader, personal mission in international development.

My favorite part of the retreat was our group discussion of how we all became involved in the international development sector. While I noticed that all of my cohort had very different individual narratives and academic and professional backgrounds, we all shared a common concern for humanity globally. I was also struck by how so many of my classmates had particular transformative experiences which piqued their interest in global inequality and eventually led them to working in international development. I was especially surprised by how many of my classmates had made significant sacrifices to work in international development and have an ethically impactful career.