Homari Aoki

MPS in Global Development, 2021-22
  • Hometown: Hiroshima, Japan
  • Colleges attended and degree earned: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: BS in Environmental Economics and Policy, BA in Portuguese
What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?

I would like to work on global renewable energy development. Providing reliable, affordable, sustainable energy can help increase economic opportunity, better education and improve health.

What were you doing before the MPS program?

Prior to the MPS program (and currently), I am working for the Oil Spill Preparedness Division in the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which is under the Department of the Interior. The work of our division focuses on making sure oil spills do not occur on the outer continental shelf of the US, and if there is a spill, there are plans in place to take action swiftly to recover the spilled oil.

Before that, I was an agriculture volunteer for the Peace Corps in Cameroon. I partnered with the local government in Cameroon to develop integrated farming projects that focused on women’s empowerment. One of these projects involved providing training on the integration of rabbit rearing into existing farming practices. I was selected to showcase the project to the US ambassador to Cameroon.

What does global development mean to you?

To me, global development means collaborating with underdeveloped communities to assess their specific needs and wants for their own society. It means providing technical expertise and investment to aid a community in making their own decisions on how to improve upon their society. This allows the community to take the reins and be at the forefront of the decision making process for themselves. Global development takes into account the cultures and values of individual communities and preserves their uniqueness while providing assistance to others.

What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?

During my time with the Peace Corps, I was relocated about 8 hours away from the village where I was originally stationed due to political instability in the region. A few months later, I received a call from a man from the previous village who had heard of me and wanted to collaborate on a women’s empowerment project. He travelled the eight hours to collaborate with me because one of the farmers I had previously worked with had found value in our partnership!

Tell us a fun fact about you.

I used to be able to do backflips!

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