The first thing you notice when you meet Matthew is his skin. Yesterday morning I had prepared myself for our sit-down by reading his hagiography on the Harvard website. From his picture on the website I didn’t glean how luminous his skin is, so inviting even under the shade of his worn baseball cap. His pearl skin was dotted with a few red patches which made me even more curious about where he’s been and all that he’s seen. Matthew Bonds was leaving for Rwanda soon but we were meeting to talk about the work I’m doing for his company. I’m creating their website and launching their social media campaign.
Matt has his PHD in both ecology and economics. He joined the Harvard faculty after a fellowship in sustainable development at Columbia University, where he was mentored by Jeffrey Sachs (gasp). He analyzes the relationship between ecology and economic development and focuses on how health care can promote economic growth in poor regions. In Rwanda he works with Partners in Health to measure socioeconomic impacts. I wanted to eat him whole; parse everything that he was about to tell me.
I asked so many questions. At first my questions revolved around his company, since that was the purpose of our sit-down. (To create the website, even though I’ve read the facts, I wanted to get a face-to-face sense of the public weal.) Then I jumped right into personal questions. I wanted to know everything about his career path.
Then I told him a few reasons why I was so actively transitioning careers and why I loved international development. He had, of course, never watched an Anderson Cooper segment. I didn’t dare mention Wendy Williams. Nonetheless, he made a few statements that I found to be so insightful.
1. “The funny thing about fame is that it’s amplified the closer you get to it.”
So true. Most people who work in media still obsess over hosts and taking pictures with celebrities to post on their blogs/twitter. It’s interesting. You would think that because it’s their job they would be less sycophantic.
2. “It’s so much more fun to be stressed out about things you genuinely care about.”
While it’s stressful for me to be transitioning into a career in international development, it’s also fun to be meeting someone like Matthew and inhaling his wisdom. I rather be doing this than writing a research packet on a crazy woman who takes her toddler tanning.
3. “It’s never too late.”
Matt said his sister went to medical school at 33 years old. She’s 38 now and just starting her residency. It was kind of him to tell me her story.
It’s been a rainy week but I definitely have seen the light.