My name is Marney McNall.
I have a passion for relaying stories of hope and perseverance. Statistics have their place, but I believe it’s through stories that we really learn to empathize with others.
“Books allow us to go into someone else’s life and step inside their skin, and see the world through their eyes. And that’s what makes us more compassionate people.” Ann Patchett
I began my writing career as a technical writer and have also authored a field manual on humanitarian operations for an agency in the U.S. government.
I have written a contemporary novel about intrepid expat volunteers that I hope to publish. This is a major dream of mine. Writing has always been the best way for me to get my thoughts to coalesce and the topic of how and why people volunteer where they do, fascinates me. I can tell you, volunteers are a diverse bunch of very interesting people. I hear all the time how ‘it changed my life’… ‘had a huge impact’… ‘made me see things a whole different way’. I’ve said all these things, myself. I have several stories of my own—starting with going on a Semester at Sea many years ago—and I’m sure they will filter through this blog—but actually, I’d really like to hear yours.
I volunteer, but I could do more. For several years, I worked in close cooperation with many nonprofits and the U.S. military in delivering humanitarian supplies to places all over the world. There are plenty of people with far more experience, but I’ve definitely done enough to know what an impact it can have on your life. It’s the paradox of giving: how much you receive in return.
Volunteering and giving in the middle of a busy life full of bills and responsibilities is not easy. But, it is possible. Better to do something small than nothing at all. Even if it’s handing out flyers or standing at the door, greeting people at an event. Still counts.
I currently volunteer for The A21 Campaign, which fights human trafficking…modern-day slavery. If you don’t know much about this subject, you should learn. It’s the fastest growing crime in the world. And seriously scary stuff… If you’re interested in the current State of Modern Slavery, check out the article I wrote for Relevant Magazine. I warn you, some of what you read in the article will be unsettling.
I am an avid reader. I read anything from classics to contemporary—fiction as well as non-fiction. I’ve heard it said that non-fiction is factual truth while fiction is emotional truth. I think they’ve got something there, which is why I read both.
I like to travel (at a minimum, vicariously). I was taught to be curious and go look for answers. I once asked my mom what made the rocks in Bryce Canyon, glow orange and magenta. She offered a perfectly acceptable answer, I thought, but within an hour, plonked a book on the geology of the national parks on my desk, in case I wanted to know more—which I did. Later, I went there to see for myself—a habit to travel that is repeated as often as I can manage. I’ve been to 32 countries and 46 of the U.S. states, but the more I travel, I realize, the less I know.
Travel has allowed me small windows into different cultures and ways of dealing with life. But something happens when you see what other people are going through to survive.