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Disgusted by the foul urban odors of Pakistan, my younger brother and I became possessed by the utility of our iPhones and remained confined within the walls of our uncle’s apartment. Eventually, my uncle became frustrated with our self-isolation and offered to take us on an “adventure.” In the minds of children, an adventure consists of going to a park or a skating arena. But we were in for a not-so-pleasant surprise.
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After a bumpy rickshaw ride through narrow streets and arid fields, we arrived at a plantation. Wandering through the rows of crops, I saw children using sharp tools in the scorching sun. We took a seat on a haystack and were joined by a young boy, whom I had seen working in the fields earlier. He told us about the long hours. He told us about the life-threatening injuries he suffered. He told us about the school he attended and the quality time his family used to spend together before a multinational company built a factory in town. Soon, the azan began to play, signaling the time for prayer. My brother and I headed home, both touched and troubled by the boy’s stories.
The image of the boy stuck with me even after I returned to Dallas. To ease my queasy conscience, I began researching child labor, hoping this abuse was not widespread. To my disappointment, it was. The more I learned about the topic, the more frustrated I became. After surfing through what seemed to be a million links, I finally found one that relieved me. The article explained how region-wide boycotts encourage companies to implement better work environments. In that moment, I realized the power humans possess to encourage changes in longstanding practices.
There are two types of change — positive and negative — and unfortunately, many companies pick the latter. However, as a tutor who makes money by helping students excel, I do not view business as a win-lose situation for myself and my students. Rather, I believe that business should and can be a win-win for both the company and the surrounding societies. Through impact investment, in which companies stimulate societal uplift alongside profits, businesses can help their own communities. By concentrating in business analytics and economics, I will ensure that business models serve disadvantaged rural societies. We must create a world where profit is not the only measure of prosperity.
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