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Welcome to the IRIS family

February 21, 2012

IRIS would like to welcome the new KL-YES Program Assistant Anastasia Morrissey to our staff. Her duties will primarily consist of finding host families for the KL-YES students selected for the 2012-2013 school year. We look forward to hearing from her as she brings in more information on families and schools willing to participate!

 Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up on a farm outside of Ames and went to Boone High School. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Iowa State University. Jobs- I’ve done everything from working with college football players to juvenile delinquents. Interests- I’m a big reader. Any book I can get my hands on, I’ll read. I like classic novels and non-fiction books about space. I’m extremely into space, the planets, constellations, elements found in particles in space, fusion, etc. If you mention the Hadron Collider, I’ll launch into an hour-long discussion about the “god particle” and black holes. I love the idea of the unknown and things that are bigger than myself.

How did you become involved with international programs?

My very last class of college was World Food Issues taken during a summer as an elective credit that I needed to graduate. I had no idea it would change my life. All of a sudden I wanted to help Africa; That’s my new life mission.

 What brought you to IRIS?

I met Martha (IRIS Operations Manager) while doing an internship at the World Food Prize in Des Moines. We had a discussion about what she did, and that led to my inquiries of the international programs that IRIS did. I think, after many, many jobs, I’ve got a good handle on how non-profits function, and am getting an increasingly better sense of how to accomplish larger goals within an organization. At least, I’m learning how to collaborate with others to get things done. I think I can help with some of this new knowledge.

 What has been your most enriching travel experience, personally or professionally? How many countries have you been to, and for what reason(s)?

Let’s see, I’m a big Europe fan. I’ve traveled there 3 times so far, and I’m in love. I lived in Spain twice, both for 3 months, and I absolutely cannot get enough of the culture. I’ve traveled to many of the countries in between: England, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Portugal. I even received my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate while in Spain. It was a fantastic experience.

 What is an international issue that is of particular importance to you?

Hunger. Agriculture. Climate. Poverty. You can’t be passionate about one without being passionate about the others. I never imagined they all would tie into each other so desperately. There’s a lot of work to be done.

 Why do you feel that it is important to “connect Iowans to communities worldwide,” as IRIS’s mission states?

I think many times, Americans are very removed from other cultures and countries. Our own culture is generally a very indefinable mixture of everyone else’s. I think it’s extremely important to see beyond ourselves and our country, if only just to see the world from another person’s perspective. I think it can change everything. I really do believe it fosters compassion, independence, knowledge, wisdom and understanding. I think all of those things, and more, are what humans need to support and encourage one another through life, and not just through existence.

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