SIS Alumna Geeta Raj is Expanding Children's Imaginations Around the World
In 2011 Geeta Raj, SIS/MA ’03, left a comfortable, secure lifestyle working for a large international development agency to begin a new chapter of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. She launched The Global Sleepover, a children’s interactive story series about four friends who go on sleepovers all over the world, learning to be global citizens along the way.
“I get excited by new ideas, innovation, and creating new initiatives from scratch,” Geeta says. “I put my interest in innovation together with my love for children’s books and, before I knew it, a creative venture became a start-up.”
The Global Sleepover stories are available to select audiences in hard copy or on iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, or iPod touch with narration, touch and drag options, and sound effects. Each story is fully illustrated, focusing on one international theme or culture, and includes activities. Stories are based on traditional picture books, aimed at ages four through eight, and focus on issues of global relevance, social change, and social and environmental responsibility.
Geeta finds her new work is often a balancing act of meetings, progress and refinement, and communications and creative/design strategy. She also is an independent consultant in international development for various non-profits as well as USAID.
“I love the flexibility of my lifestyle,” Geeta says. “I can travel and sometimes I work from a café, a shared office space with other entrepreneurs, or out of my home office.”
Geeta grew up in Massachusetts and Texas, but has lived around the world, including time spent in the Balkans, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Colombia. She remembers the opportunities AU and Washington, D.C. provided her as a graduate student in the international peace and conflict resolution program, and she feels AU fosters the perfect combination of theoretical and practical experience for students.
“My work brings the little kid out in me,” Geeta says. “Watching creativity and imagination transform into ideas and practical execution is one of the best parts of what I do.”
Geeta hopes to grow The Global Sleepover, and she also is working on writing a non-fiction manuscript about reuniting with her father in India after not seeing him for 25 years. Soon she will be sharing this personal story as a mainstage speaker with The Moth, a true storytelling organization based in New York City that is often featured as one of the most popular podcasts on Apple iTunes.
“I’m loving the journey of finding those who know what I don’t,” Geeta says. “Those who are forward-thinkers, risk-takers, and visionaries continue to be my favorite. Of course, those who love sleepovers are my favorite too.”