In 2015, we met with the coolest people. At the time, we didn’t know any of them existed, much less that we would end up with so many inspirational articles about Houston. Every single day, we unearth more and more people that are quietly telling us their stories, and we can’t help but be in awe of every single individual whose path we have crossed. This is no less true for Mara Andersen, who we would call nothing less than an inspirational international facilitator. She is far from average and blew us away with her life experiences, her story and her mission to create change and inspire in Houston.
Mara Andersen was born in Denver and always love the puzzle of language. She loved the noises and figuring out sentences and the gratification of saying what she meant to say and knowing that someone understood it. By the age of 14, she started to learn Chinese, and she can speak Spanish, Hebrew, English, and Chinese fluently. At Colorado College, Mara studied Chinese, and when she graduated, she moved to Taiwan where she taught English to Kindergartners for a year.
Back in Denver, she worked for the Denver Art Museum for a bit, and then found out about a job at the State Department and became a Diplomat, where she represented the United States in Hong Kong, the United Arab Emeritus and then China, before moving back to the State Department in Washington DC. Every two years, Mara moved to another country, and she loved the adventure of it, but the hardest part of this was it was hard to maintain an adult relationship, although she had many friendships, she wanted to get back into life in the United States.
When she moved back to Washington DC to the State Department, she began to work on her Masters Degree at George Washington University, and her focus was on how to focus a foster a better relationship between the United Stated Government and the private sector. Mara had met the man she is now married to, Raji while she was stationed in the UAE. He is Syrian Muslim, and she is Jewish.
You have to be tough to be with someone whose background is so different. We are lucky that our families are so supportive of us.
Raji lived in Houston and for a year, they dated long distance, when Mara realized that with Raji’s job in Houston, she needed to transition into the private sector and move. Mara’s been in Houston for a bit over a year and now calls it home, and she currently facilitates educational partnerships between the United States and other countries and is working on how to get Houston to behave in a more International manner since we are a city that is so diverse.
Inspirational International Facilitator
Mara and Raji are very involved in the Syrian refugee resettlement crisis and have been supporting the Karam Foundation, which is based out of Chicago and is run by Syrian Americans. This is something that is near and dear to both of them. The Karam Foundation provides educational camps for kids that are in refugee camps. Many of the kids growing up in the camps have limited access to school and social opportunities, but they still deserve to be normal kids. These camps help provide this. Mara and Raji like the fact that the Karam Foundation is transparent, effective and not politically motivated, which is how they both live their life.
Mara Andersen has lived all over the world and her desire to be an inspirational international facilitator is stronger than ever, and we know that she will make a big impact on the city of Houston.