04/14/2014 04:22 pm ET Updated Jun 14, 2014

Make Change Locally to Make Change Globally

Change is an inevitable part of life. The changes we encounter range from daily, seemingly inconsequential incidents, to monumental transitions over time. Managing change requires balance to focus on the present while planning for the future. This approach to change applies to the work we do at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We are committed to making big, global changes by helping the world's poorest communities lift themselves out of poverty. To do this, we often have to focus on near-term incremental change first.

The idea that change has to start somewhere is embodied by Ezra Teshome. Ezra came to the United States from Ethiopia when he was just a student, and is now catalyzing change by tackling some of the biggest issues of global health. Ezra is a leader of the Seattle Rotary Club, and is working on the organization's efforts to end polio throughout the world. He reminds us to "think globally and act locally" as the effects of his work have rippled beyond the borders of Seattle to his home country.

Ezra is a wonderful example of how one person, simply by taking action in his own community, can positively affect broad change. He visited the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center to tell his story to StoryCorps, a national project intended to instruct and inspire people to record their narratives. Our StoryCorps project at the Visitor Center has captured the stories of people who were inspired to give back because of another individual or an experience. I remember when polio was a serious threat in this country, and I am hopeful that, thanks to the hard work of people like Ezra, I will see polio completely eradicated from the earth.

Listen to Ezra's story below. I hope it sparks the drive toward positive change within you.

Next month, in my final post, I'll share the story of Dr. Carey Jackson, the director of the International Medicine Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle who supports refugees and first-generation immigrants.

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StoryCorps is a national project intended to instruct and inspire people to record their stories in sound. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center partnered with StoryCorps to capture the stories of people who have been inspired to give back to their community.