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For the last few weeks we’ve been highlighting the American Express Canada “Potentialist” – a type of person who is rethinking what life is all about and who is finding ways to enrich her/his life through meaningful experiences. For some it’s about the challenge of exploring new places, as we saw last week in our post about the travels of Scarlett Johansson. For others it's about connecting with the world around them through getting behind a cause.
This week we continue our series of celebrity potentialists with someone who is very well known for getting behind a cause. And while there are plenty of celebrities to choose from, none is more timely and few more dedicated than Natalie Portman, the star of Black Swan, hyped to contend at the Oscars, with Natalie predicted to receive a nomination for Best Actress. Aside from acting however, Portman is very well known for her activism. For many years she has been an outspoken advocate for animal rights and green living, often combining both. In 2008 Portman donated the proceeds from her vegan shoe line to the Nature Conservancy.
Portman has also worked extensively with FINCA International as the agency’s ambassador to promote micro-lending in third world countries as a way to stop what she calls the ‘feminization of poverty’ (a growing worldwide trend whereby women account for an increasingly disproportional percentage of people living below the poverty line), encouraging entrepreneurship in even the poorest neighbourhoods around the world. Her involvement with FINCA has taken her to Uganda, Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala, to Congress to appeal for more government funding, to seminars and global conferences to promote the concept, and across campuses in North America to introduce the FINCA model to university students and social program participants. She has appeared in several documentaries in support of the women and children that FINCA has helped, and on television speaking eloquently in several interviews explaining FINCA’s efforts to a wider audience. Unlike many of her peers, who sign on to something because it can help their careers but remain ignorant about the core concepts, Portman has demonstrably taken the time to learn about and truly understand the causes she supports, and genuinely puts her own time and emotion into those projects. Here she is on The View speaking articulately about FINCA and the amazing women it has helped:
What about you – are you a ‘Potentialist’ who, like Natalie Portman, challenges yourself through volunteering and philanthropy? Do you connect with the world around you by getting involved in a worthy cause? Tell us your story. Email me at [email protected] with AMEX Potentialist as the title. We read them all and we’ll let you know if we select it for next week’s post!
Once again many of you took the time to write about your experiences based on our post from last week about Scarjo’s travels. This week we chose Sarah, who told us about the soul searching she did during a tough time in her life that lead to an upcoming trip to Africa, and Kaili, whose travels abroad helped shape her as a person. Here are snippets of their stories.
At my mother’s funeral, I was inundated with questions about what I would do now. While I managed to deflect these inquiries with adequate answers, inside I found myself screaming, ‘I don’t know!’ For the first time in my life, I didn’t know. More importantly, for the first time, I didn’t care. I could only be sure that everything had changed for me in ways I couldn’t fully comprehend at the time. It had been only four weeks earlier that I sat in my flat in South East London as my mom told me she had only two months to live….
… I began to entertain ideas about how I could find fulfillment in what I actually want to do, and not with what would be considered successful on paper. I had always wanted to travel throughout Africa, but I knew that travelling for the sake of travelling would not be enough for me right now. Instead, I have made plans to set off for Africa after the holidays on a volunteer mission for a few months. I am going to travel and get behind a cause, see how others live, and gain perspective on my life in Canada….
Click here to catch Sarah’s entire piece.
I come from a traveling family so it’s in my blood. My mom travels more than anyone I know (sometimes for fun, sometimes for work as a doctor in Malawi or Zimbabwe) and she brought me and my siblings up traveling with her. She was the single lady taking her three kids to places most wouldn’t think of visiting: horseback camping trips in the Yukon when I was 13, camel safari in Kenya when I was 15, remote Scottish castles when I was 19. I know I’m immensely lucky to have had such experiences and I owe my current need for travel to my mom – a gift she’s given me that’s worth the world (literally) and absolutely has defined who I am as an adult..
… I now know I’m comfortable in pretty much any random situation you can throw me in, because, well, I’ve already been thrown into it before.
I know I’m a better person for having gone on this trip, and I’ll be a better person still after getting back from my next. Now I just have to decide on where that’ll be.
I don’t know if I’ve yet realized my full potential but each travel adventure gets me closer and closer… and I don’t at all mind the wait.
Click here to catch Kaili’s entire piece.
Visit the American Express Realize the Potential page to see how the company is encouraging Canadians to realize their full potential. Or to learn more about Amex Canada, check out their Facebook page.
Here’s Natalie Portman at A Powerful Noise post-screening panel discussion in New York City.
Photos from Johns PkI/Splashnewsonline.com
*celebrity names/images are used for editorial purposes only and have no association with the products featured in this advertorial