In 2011 Geeta Raj, SIS/MA ’03, left a comfortable, secure lifestyle working in international development for a large agency to begin a new chapter of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship launching and now running The Global Sleepover, a children's digitally enhanced story series about four friends that go on sleepovers all over the world and learn how to be global citizens.
“I'm the kind of person who gets excited by ideas and likes to create,” Raj says. “Somehow I put my interest in innovation together with my interest in writing children's books about global sleepover, and before I knew it, the venture became a start-up.”
Stories are available to select audiences in hard copy or on the iPad, mini-iPad, iPhone, iPod touch with narration, touch/drag options and sound effects. Each story is fully illustrated, focuses on one international theme or culture and comes with activities. Stories are also based on traditional picture books, aimed at ages 4-8, and focus on issues of global relevance, social change and social/environmental responsibility.
A general week for Raj is a balancing act of multiple meetings -- in-person and phone, progress and refinement, and communications and creative/design strategy meetings. She also is an independent consultant in international development for various non-profits as well as USAID.
“I love the flexibility of my lifestyle,” Raj says. “Sometimes I work from a café, sometimes shared office space with other entrepreneurs, and sometimes out of my home office.”
Having grown up in Massachusetts and Texas, but lived around the world including the Balkans, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Colombia, Raj strong remembers the opportunities AU and Washington, DC provided her as a master’s degree student. She feels AU fosters the perfect combination of theoretical and practical experience for students.
“My work brings the little kid out in me,” Raj says. “Seeing creativity and imagination manifest as ideas and practical projects is one of the best parts of what I do.”
What does the future hold for Geeta? She hopes to continue to grow The Global Sleepover and exit at just the right time. She is also working on writing a non-fiction manuscript about reuniting with her father in India after not seeing him for 25 years. She soon will be sharing this personal story as a Mainstage Speaker with The Moth.
“I’m loving the journey of finding those that know what I don’t,” Raj says. “Those that are forward-thinkers, risk-takers and visionaries continue to be my favorite. Of course, those that love sleepovers are my favorite too.”