By Amira Guntara
Mike Nowlin is an Executive Director of Hagar USA, an organization for help and trauma recovery for survivors of human trafficking and abuse in Central and Southeast Asia. He focused on fundraising and advocacy until June, when he started serving as Hagar Cambodia’s Executive Director, getting to engage in Cambodia’s culture.
Mike is from Southern Ohio, and lived in a mainly white neighborhood. He felt like he didn’t fit in, so when he was old enough he moved to attend college. One day, he was at a homeless shelter when he met someone who changed his idea about the way he thought of the different cultures. Mike then decided that he wanted to travel and work overseas to experience different places, cultures, and religions.
Mike Nowlin says that, “One of the main problems between cultures in Columbus is that nationally people are fearful of too many things. People are scared of things that they shouldn’t be scared of, like speaking your mind about anything in general that you think is right, exposing your culture, or accepting you for you. Most people don’t do this because of the ignorance around the world”.
One solution according to Mike Nowlin is, “We could stand up for the people who are different than you, no matter who they are. Take every chance and opportunity to ask questions. Try to be convincing when speaking about culture, or anything in general. Try to stand up for what you think is right. Even if they don’t listen, you could at least change their mind about the small things. Small things matter. You could try to convince the older generation and try to change the opinions that you think are wrong. Younger generations are more open-minded about the world, but older generations grew up in a way where they think and act differently about people’s opinions”.
Mike Nowlin cares about including other cultures, standing up for others, and facing your fears when it comes to speaking your opinions. I hope that this makes people notice or wonder more about culture and religion because it is an important topic in Columbus and the world. Mike Nowlin believes that change begins when we take small steps which leads to big steps as a society.