Camilla Hermann

Executive Director at GroundUp Global

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Camilla Hermann

I love people. I believe sincerely in our ability to regenerate, to change, and to overcome as individuals. My creativity wells from the same place where this core belief resides. Building has always fascinated me but it is the connections, the interstitial space of an alley or the intellectual gap between Western Aid and its delivery on the ground that leaves my mind whirring with ideas. I see connections.  I bridge obstacles to find opportunity where others are stalled by conflict.

WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?

I don’t know who would play me in a movie… some amalgamation of Gwyneth Paltrow, Ellen Pompeo, and Olivia Wilde?

A combination of grace, intensity, and concern for others as a guiding principal in living life.

 

FIVE THINGS I AM MOST EXCITED ABOUT

• Learning / perpetual student

I’m a fast learner and absorb the most when the situation is hands-on. I believe strongly in engaging the world as a student, remaining humble in the knowledge that there is always, always something more to learn. This mindset is one I first adopted when I lived in Ghana as an undergraduate and spent most of my time on the Buduburam refugee camp. I was completely humbled by how little I knew, despite attending a prestigious college and enjoying a relatively privileged life up to that point. I expected some of this before I departed the US, but there was no way I could know what I didn’t know when I boarded the plane. Finally understanding what I didn’t know changed me forever. I think in many ways it healed me.

 

• Design as lifestyle

When I first took a design course in college, it was like I had found my way home. At last there was a term for the way my mind worked, the passions I pursued in life – I am a designer. The first class I took was called Mapping … and as my skill level increased I realized that what I was most interested in mapping was not the room itself, but the relationship of identity to space. My colloquium, the culmination of my undergraduate studies, analyzed the relationship of cultural portrayals of female anatomy and female identity to the physical spaces of Western cultures and time periods.

 

• Creative good / aid architecture

I want to design for good. I believe that this regenerative quality, this creativity I have is most rewarding when it engages people in need. Since I travelled to Ghana as a sophomore in college, I have been working to build a nonprofit that benefits the Liberian refugees on the Buduburam Camp. In learning more and more about international development and aid, I have thought through different aid architectures and their impacts on all parties involved.

When I was too young to complete full sentences, I would firmly tell adults “wanna do it self!” Although I’ve come to appreciate the value of teamwork and the need for help at crucial points, I’ve never lost that ingrained sense of self-sufficiency. This coupled with an insatiable desire to learn leads me to many adventures. I enjoy teaching myself new skills and recently survived a foray into silk screening – determined to produce quality shirts for my nonprofit that were within our limited budget.

 

• Travel

A few years ago, I loved travel because the quiet, persistent monotony of a train in motion was the one excuse I had to simply do nothing while still technically being productive (I was, after all, moving from one location of responsibilities to another.) Travel helps me to understand and connect with the parts of my identity that are not yet fully formed. I’m 23. I know I’m not expected to have it all figured out, but I need some help articulating what I do know in a way that is concise, compelling, and intelligible to others.

 

• A Challenge

I feel drawn to huge, seemingly unachievable goals that others have abandoned. I’ve learned to use fear as a compass for my actions. Fear, when not of physical or psychological harm, points to those experiences from which I can most learn, develop, and grow. I’ve come to view emotions like compositions of matter – when you break them down they are all made of the same stuff. It’s about finding a way to rearrange the atoms, to turn pain into joy and joy into generation.

 

This is how I came to be in the midst of crowdsourcing funding through the Liberian diaspora in the US to help provide safe repatriation and holistic reintegration for the unregistered Liberian refugees on the Buduburam camp. This involved coordinating between the Liberian government, Ghanaian government, the United Nations, and the US. It is a daunting task that no one else has been able to accomplish, despite the initial attempts of large organizations like the International Organization for Migration. I gathered a solid and talented team around the cause, as this is certainly not something I could ever achieve alone.

 

PERSONAL POSITION STATEMENT

I need some help with this! I would love any feedback people have to offer, maybe just a jumping-off point I could use to get started.

 

 

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