Life Stories #49: Jessica Alexander

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Life Stories: Jessica Alexander
photo: Amy Braithwaite

In Chasing Chaos, Jessica Alexander writes about her experiences as a humanitarian aid worker in places like Rwanda, Darfur, and Haiti—and how she and her coworkers coped with what they were facing in those situations, as well as the emotional and psychological difficulties she faced when she came back to the United States. We talk about that in this episode of Life Stories, the podcast series where memoir writers discuss their lives and the art of writing memoir, but we also talk about what she’s observed about the humanitarian aid process and how the resources we send to areas struck by war, famine or natural disaster might be better allocated.

Alexander’s working from New York City these days—and her work includes teaching the next generation of international relief workers; that’s one of the reasons she wrote Chasing Chaos, to provide a ground-level testament to what the life is really like. At some point in your life, she says, you have to assess your priorities: Do you want to focus on the excitement of moving from one hotspot to the next, or concentrate on nurturing stable emotional connections with those closest to you? And yet, she confesses, the urge to jump on a plane and go to the next big assignment can always flare up…

Listen to Life Stories #49: Jessica Alexander (MP3 file); or download this file directly by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click). You can also subscribe to Life Stories in iTunes, where you can catch up with earlier episodes and be alerted whenever a new one is released. (And if you are an iTunes subscriber, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast!)

24 October 2013 | life stories |