Columbia University alumni attended a free public event to meet Jessica Alexander, author of Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid.
Jessica is an alumna of SIPA ('04), received her Masters in Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health, and is currently an adjunct professor at the Mailman School of Public Health.
In this honest and irreverent memoir, she introduces readers to the realities of life as an aid worker. We watch as she manages a 24,000-person camp in Darfur, collects evidence for the Charles Taylor trial in Sierra Leone, and contributes to the massive aid effort to clean up a shattered Haiti. But we also see the alcohol-fueled parties and fleeting romances, the burnouts and self-doubt, and the struggle to do good in places that have long endured suffering.
Tracing her personal journey from wide-eyed and naïve newcomer to hardened cynic and, ultimately, to hopeful but critical realist, Alexander transports readers to some of the most troubled locations around the world and shows us not only the seemingly impossible challenges, but also the moments of resilience and recovery.