About Me

I’m Pippa! I am 21 years old, and live in NYC. I started this blog as a way to challenge myself to write regularly. Everything that I post here is unfiltered, unedited and is not a representation of any organization or company.

I was born in NYC and grew up in Westchester, NY. At 14, I left home for Miss Porter’s, an all-girls boarding school in CT. While in high school, I helped, along with an amazing group of men and women, to organize a summer camp for HIV+ children in the Dominican Republic which I am still very passionate about. I deferred college for a year after graduation to serve as the Youth Leadership Fellow for the Jane Goodall Institute’s youth program, Roots & Shoots. After traveling around the world speaking, mentoring young leaders, working with teachers, and becoming buddies with Jane, I attended Lewis & Clark College for a year. After my freshman year I transferred to Barnard College, and then dropped out in the summer of 2013, after my sophomore year, to commit full-time to BrightCo. I also serve as a Youth Representative to the UN for The Jane Goodall Institute, am on the Editorial Board of The FBomb, contribute to the Huffington Post, and work as a freelance writer. I have no idea where I will be in five years, but I love where I am right now.

I owe a huge thank you to my sister, Martha Biddle, and the many family and friends who give me their two cents before I press publish. 

In addition to this blog, I can be found cooking up a storm at PippaCooks and sharing thoughts on fashion, beauty, and home decor at PippaLoves (coming soon).

I can be reached at pippa@pippabiddle.com for press requests and speaking engagements.

 

OTHER THINGS I’VE WRITTEN 

Exploiting Communities For A Cause: How Oprah Is In The Business Of Poverty Porn (Elite Daily) July 8, 2014

Overheated Russian World Cup Fans Given Ice Packs of Brazil’s Favorite Beer (PSFK) July 7, 2014

I’m Terrified of Having Children (In America) (Elite Daily) June 30, 2014

There Are No Good Female Developers (The FBomb) June 16, 2014

Why Does ‘Success’ for Women Still Ignore Tech? (The FBomb) May 28, 2014

Find Real Ways to Help (New York Times Online) April 29, 2014

Date a Girl in Startups (Thought Catalog) February 11, 2014

Three Things You Need to Know Before You Start Your Internship (Go Girl Finance) July 31, 2013

Are Women’s Careers on a Deadline? (Go Girl Finance) July 22, 2013

Money 101 for the College Student (Go Girl Finance) April 3, 2013

 

 

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35 comments

  1. I liked your article on “White Girls and Boys”. I was a “Volunteer Teacher” in Rajasthan, India, for 2 months. I taught kids between 7 and 14. I couldn’t help think how useless I was not knowing the local language, and arrogantly trying to teach the kids English. For me the major issue was not so much the colour of the skin (although this is a major issue in some cases), but it is income inequality. I currently live in South Africa, famous for its income inequality. The country is the most striking example of the blind arrogance that people pickup when they are brought up in a comfortable environment and are financially stable. They start to look down on those not so fortunate, as if they are inferior, and fail to understand the real reason is the lack of opportunity. I don’t consider myself very left-wing, in fact more towards the right because I have been given plenty of opportunities in my 26 years, but I would certainly say living in South Africa has pushed me more to the left of centre. The air of arrogance and superiority that exists among the wealthy South African community is beyond belief and angers me on a daily basis, and this is more evident because of income inequality. This sense of superiority and privilage, that you refer to is, I think, more down to income inequality rather than the colour of our skin, and more prevalent in developing countries where the inequality is greatest, rather than in developed countries.

  2. Pippa! Thank you so much for showing what a ridiculous situation we have with affluent white kids going out to the developing world to build things for them. It is patronising to suggest that local people (of whom there are many) are incapable of building their own structures, while completely untrained (white) kids can come out and do it better! Better to give them the money spent on your flight and see how much they would achieve by cutting out the middle man (i.e. us!).

    The other thing that grates on me when I interview candidates for med school is the number who have gone out the the “third world” and delivered babies, stitched up wounds and done all sorts of things like that.

    I ask why they didn’t just pop down to their local ER, or Ob Gyn and have a go at doing some bits and pieces. Invariably they look at me like I am stupid, but very few understand that the reason they can do these things in the developing world is purely because the patients are poor and black and they are rich and white.

    Brilliant blog!

    1. Hi Gareth,

      Thanks for your comment. I do have to say that the clinic that our camp is connected too in the DR does accept medical students from the USA for multi-week programs. I’ve found that these student, when they come with the right attitude and are trained right, end up being an asset to the clinic while getting hands on experience that can be hard to find in the USA (partly due to fewer restrictions in the DR).

      Cheers,
      Pippa

      1. While I agree with Gareth’s reservations regarding med school candidates, even someone with basic knowledge of hygiene or nutrition can, with the right attitude, be tremendously beneficial in certain situations.

        If you find yourself living with a local population used to cutting umbilical cords with whatever sharp implement happens to be close at hand, or where a large number of pregnant women tend to be obviously malnourished (or far too young), or where infections are poorly treated or neglected, and so on, some fairly basic knowledge can make a significant difference.

  3. Ah, I can see that would be a benefit to everyone. The cases I am talking about are guys who have no medical knowledge, because they have not entered med school.

  4. Hello Pippa
    This blog is as interesting as it is refreshing to read. I am from botswana and have been living in Vancouver Canada for the past 3.5 years. Ten years ago when I was mid my tertiary academic life I was adamant if not self-assured in changing the world through scientific research and entrepreneurship. So a part of me immensely appreciates your sentiments about thriving to be’ the change we seek to see in the world’. In my young-buck enthuseasm I had conjured a plan to take over the world one micro-scale venture at a time. I have to admit though, never did I – at the time-have your insight on foreign volunterism and its perceived and yet inadvertent influence on community development. So thank you for that. .It sure is food for thought. Dare I say inspiring.

    So, many years down the road, life with its curve balls and adventures, I find myself in one of the most expensive cities to live in the world and working in the most improbable-for me, given my background and earlier aspirations- occupations yet. Needless to say, the longing to contribute beyond the boundaries of my own life’s comfort and plesentries didn’t take long to dawn on me. It took months of internal scrutiny and soul judging ;-) before realizing that unless I had an audacious goal that still bore community building in some form or the other, I would not be entirely happy let alone content. So, here and now, I enjoy my work far much more knowing that it, together with the expertise I will acquire along the way, will be the bigger piece to my old yet never forgotten plan to effect real change. .even in the simplest of forms. .

    So, I say to you again, thank you for your spirit, may it never and (as the north Americans would say) remain the fire up our arses. .

    Cheers Pippa

    Vincenté

  5. Hi Pippa,

    Read your article “The Problem With Little White Girls (And Boys)” and I felt you were on point. I also work with NGOs active in the developing world and I have definitely observed the irony of using sheltered, well-educated, wealthy youth for manual labor. I also agree that meaningful change should be inspired by local actors, rather than outsiders. I’m a photographer and filmmaker and for the next month I’ll be documenting a reforestation project that aims to incentivize local populations to preserve the jungle where they traditionally practice shade-grown agriculture. Here’s their website: http://www.forestforaliving.org/. In my opinion, one of the most effective things that we can do as foreigners is to give people in our own countries the context to view the developing world with compassion and an understanding of the factors that create inequality, rather than with condescending pity. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, if you have a spare few moments.

    Cheers!

  6. I just read The Problem With Little White Girls (and Boys) (to which I mentally responded, “yes yes yes yes yes yes yes”) and I never would’ve guessed you were only 21. You have learned lessons it takes some people many, many years of working internationally and/or cross-culturally to learn. I’m happy to have been introduced to your blog!

  7. I think your awesome.. its hard to meet girls with such ambition, integrity and goals in life. I really hope that you stay passionate about others and recognize the impact that we can have on others. Maybe someday I will even get to meet you in person on one of your “travels”! I hope so, take care and good luck!!!

  8. Dear Pippa,

    First I must thank you for your honesty displayed in, “The Problem with Little White Girls (and Boys)” – but must disagree with a few points. Like you, my first mission trip was a week-long trip to Guatemala to help build a water tank for an orphanage. It was tough work, we were led by a local who instructed us what to do, and then got to spend the weekend in Antigua. Also like you, my lack of Spanish became apparent within hours of arriving in the country. In many ways, this trip was a full of voluntourists (I like that word by the way!).

    I agree with the point you made about local labor, but don’t agree that everyone has a white complex. Maybe it’s naivety, but I did not feel this way. In fact, our group gathered together after the experience to share how we felt – days after the trip, weeks, and months. Gradually that “I’m blessed / fortunate” feeling passed and we transitioned back to “first world life”, but the experience remained with us. To this day, I still recall the director of the program telling us not to expect to change anything while we’re there, other than our hearts.

    So what’s it all for then? If I’m not helping anyone, am I just paying money to make myself feel good? Important? Charitable? I think there’s more than meets the eye.

    I’m speaking of solidarity and breaking down cultural barriers – something not created by the money and the projects but by the interaction with people there. Maybe it’s only a single child or a whole community – but we are learning and growing with each other.

    I felt a calling to return to service and spent nine months in Barahona. Maybe you had the chance to visit it while working at Camp Alegria. During those nine months, I was one of a few white people in the whole town. The others were from Spain or Cuba – so language was not a problem. I struggled with the dialect and most people saw me as a gringo, rubio, or americano. However, I persisted and kept at it, trying to learn as much about the people as I could in my time. But the time I left, the little community of barrio Enriquillo no longer used those terms – but said that I had become a platano maduro. It was a great honor.

    In those nine months, did I make a difference? I can’t answer that. However, I can say that I laughed, cried, worked, and struggled with the community which welcomed me. If the problem is skin color – like you suggest – how are we ever able to fix it without interaction? Without solidarity and cooperative education, we will remain the same – or worse – deteriorate.

  9. Pippa,
    I want to help somehow in other countries and was going to sign up for a volunteer thing like you described in your article “the problem with little while girls (and boys).” I am a math teacher and want to go help someone, somewhere. What is your advice? I feel I am qualified to help school systems, teach teachers, etc.
    Thanks!
    Darilyn

  10. Dear Pippa! As a brown immigrant kid who has spent the later half of his life in the “developed world”, I am absolutely blown away by your candid yet brilliant and rather truthful take on the phenomenon of Voluntourism. Thank you for your courage in calling a spade … a spade! The same phenomenon afflicts a lot of my fellow Australians. I have always wondered why a person who doesn’t even go to help out at a local soup kitchen would be so idealistically motivated to go for a few weeks to help save the poor folk in Africa (or India or South America etc). It is sad to see people going on voluntour excursions … merely to motivate themselves or gain a little direction in their own lives at the expense of other people’s misery. They don’t know how useful their wasted money could have been … if only they had donated the amount rather than their own selves!

  11. Dear Pippa,

    Thank you so much for your article. Your words express something that I’ve always felt was off with the whole “voluntourism” business. Your line about how the local children need local role models to look up to, as opposed to outsiders, was something so poignant and something wonderful that I had never even though about before. You’re absolutely right. Children in these countries need readily accessible role models, as opposed to fleeting angels that come and go with the intention of “saving” them. And much much more important, seeing a role model, be it a teacher, or a doctor, or any type of leader within the community who looks like them and is something they can relate to is a very powerful motivator. It builds the idea that people like them can one day also be successful in that level.

    So, thank you so much. You put your points across wonderfully in a way that I never could. :)

  12. Hi Pippa,

    I’m currently writing a news feature for my Masters degree on the ‘white saviour’
    I think your post perfectly nails what I’m trying to say and I’d love to ask you a few more questions about it.

    It’d be amazing if you could get in touch.

    Ray.

  13. Hey Pippa, I loved your entry about white volunteers abroad and am sharing it widely among friends and family. Just an FYI, the camp you write about was around for several years before you got to DR. I was in La Romana from 2006-2008 and was a camp organizer in 2007, when we spent a week in Jaraboca with 40 HIV+ children. Even then, it had been going on for years before I got there (just ask Noemi, she was a key organizer from the start). As part of exactly what you are talking about, the broken stream of foreigners coming through every few years leads to a discontinuity with past efforts and a sense of reinventing the wheel. While you may have helped establish a new name and better programming that could be offered to more children, you did not in fact found the camp, as you state in your biography. Even more evidence to support the value of your piece and the ways you’ve refocused your efforts on fundraising.

    1. Hi Mo,
      Thanks for your feedback. The wording used in my bio has been approved by camp and clinic leaders as an accurate reflection of my role (along with many others) in shaping camp as it is currently. Also, Noemi is the best!
      Cheers,
      Pippa

  14. Pippa,
    Great, valuable perspective. The historical context particularly resonates.
    You should team up with Jeff Sachs: if you want to help the developing world, deliver skills, resources, money… but not you, unless you actually know how to fix a motor, build a well, vaccinate.
    And hi from the Vermont Dukes.
    Biddle

  15. I read ur article … I notice that you said in you’re article “After six years of working in and traveling through a number of different countries where white people are in the numerical minority, I’ve come to realize that there is one place being white is not only a hindrance, but negative — most of the developing world”…

    just wanted to point out ..white people are %9 of the world..so that means they are a numerical minority period…and yeah the “white savour” is kinda getting redundant,so the best suggestion would be to use that Boarding school education and petition the same western Governments who are destroying the world outside of Europe and America’s hemisphere.. and asked them to leave Africa alone period and stop instigating conflicts..also repay the nations back for all the stolen mineral wealth and for genocidal acts committed by the past European colonist..and therefore there would be no need for anyone to go and help the poor people of Africa( especially when they sit on the most fertile and mineral rich land on the planet ) Africans do not need the European the European(APPLE,EXXON,SHELL,De Bears) however needs the African…

  16. Hi Pippa,

    I’d like to ask you a question here. When you first started this blog, did you feel insecure about how people would react? I just set up my first blog(s) and published them on Facebook but the second I hit that button I thought that maybe I shouldn’t have.

    The fear of failure and people thinking that my writing is bad is quite a big issue for me and now I hesitate to publish more or to share them on social networks to make my blogs have more traffic.

    Can you give me any advice on this?

    Thank you very much!
    A.

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