The Quest for Sustainability

I Give a Talk to YouTube & Google Staff in San Bruno, California

I Give a Talk to YouTube & Google Staff in San Bruno, California

“Years from now, I’m going to be looking back at this point in my life and laugh,” I told my friend whom I’m staying with in San Francisco. “I’m doing something successful enough that people are inviting me to meet them and give talks… yet unsuccessful enough that I can’t afford to buy myself some new clothes,” I said with a wry laugh.

Right now I’m in San Francisco – home of Silicon Valley. It’s home to where all this technology that has made this project possible exists. There’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and so much more. Heck, I got to meet one of the guys that designed the MacBook Pro I’m typing this blog post on! As awesome as this place is… I’d rather be back in Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, I’m the guy that helps others. I’m the guy that comes out of nowhere and – if I’m lucky – make a difference in someone’s life. In San Francisco, I’m the guy looking for help. In a city with such a disproportionate amount of well connected and successful people, I’m hoping someone comes out of nowhere and – if I’m lucky – makes a difference in my life by helping me sustain my work.

I’m taking it one day at a time.

One of the biggest days for me happened not to long ago. I was invited to speak at YouTube Headquarters. People have told me that the talk I gave was really well received and that the turn-out for this talk (which went for an hour) was much higher than expected. But, in all honestly, I don’t remember much because I was nervous as could be.

The question of why I'm doing this is easy. How to sustain this? Not so much.

The question of why I'm doing this is easy. How to sustain this? Not so much.

The one thing I do remember is that I stressed at the talk is the fact that my work would not be possible without YouTube. Whether it was John Green & the Nerdfighters convincing me to accept donations, teachers at the American International School in Dhaka helping with room, board, and contacts with charities, or people around the world reaching out to me – none of this would be possible if it was not for YouTube & it’s community.

Although in a completely different way, the same is also true for Twitter. When I think about how I’ve been able to use Twitter, it’s only now sinking in how much of what I’ve done have been Twitter “firsts”. I was, for example, the first person to use Twitter as a means of providing real-time donation receipts. People donated to Cyclone Aila reliefand many got a tweet with a photo of the exact person they helped in real-time from the disaster area.

One thing that people who are seeing me in real life often comment is how excited I get when I talk about my work. I love what I do – and I don’t want to stop. As much as I love the sights, sounds, and food of this place – the only reason I’m here is because I want to find a way to get back to Bangladesh and to keep doing this project.

Wish me luck. One day at a time.

6 Responses to “The Quest for Sustainability”


  1. 1 wind4me

    irony of our apathetic America……..most are just worried about their 401k’s and the other half could not find Bangladesh on a map if U told them U would double their 401K’s for a correct answer! Keep up the good work…….I know how U feel!

  2. 2 wind4me

    irony of our apathetic America……..most are just worried about their 401k’s and the other half could not find Bangladesh on a map if U told them U would double their 401K’s for a correct answer! Keep up the good work…….I know how U feel!

  3. 3 REBECCA NANKUMBA

    I would like to work with your team to help me achieve my goals with the little that I can afford to save a year.

  4. 4 Alejandro Ariza

    SHAWN: God is reluctant through you! Please, feel free to tell me what can I do for you right here and now from Mexico. I discover your work today and feel deeply touched about your courage to transform your life into the Light! Awsome! God bless you! Please, contact me and have a talk. I can fly to SF if you want.

  5. 5 Alejandro Ariza

    SHAWN: God is reluctant through you! Please, feel free to tell me what can I do for you right here and now from Mexico. I discover your work today and feel deeply touched about your courage to transform your life into the Light! Awsome! God bless you! Please, contact me and have a talk. I can fly to SF if you want.

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