Meet Rob Green '11
Worldwide adventure seeker, chief instructor, medical volunteer, guide, expedition outreach manager, expedition medic, Sioux Falls
— English, journalism & philosophy majors
Q. How did you choose Augustana?
A. To be honest I don't entirely remember my reasons for coming to Augie. I do remember being enrolledat the University of Minnesota and a couple weeks before classes my gut told me to go to Augie. Thus began a long-running relationship between me and my gut.
Life at Augie
Q. Favorite class and why?
A. Anything I did abroad was my testing ground. It was a chance to take everything I'd been studying and experiencing on campus and throw it out into the world to see what stuck. Sometimes my ideas were confirmed and sometimes I realized I was terribly, horribly mistaken. But that's what it's about, no? Augie was a place that taught me how to see and experience peopleand places in a way I'd never known before.
Q. Favorite professor and why?
A. I can't play favorites here. The truth is that every professor I had made an impact me on one way or another. Some big, some little, but all were important in shaping me during my time at Augie.
Q. Best Augie memory?
A. Meeting my wife. We met covered head to toe in sweat, mud, bug bites, and burns while studying in Guatemala. After we got home we'd spend every day together. I fell in love with her later that year when we were studying in London and got caught up during some education riots and I grabbed her hand so she didn't get trampled as we raced through the Underground trying to avoid the police. Sparks flew as soon as I touched her hand and they've been flying ever since.
Q.Tell us about your journey after graduating from Augustana – first job, grad school, travel, etc.?
A. To help pay for college, I started a small martial arts school and worked there throughout my entire time at Augie. Since then, it's grown into much larger venture with over 200 students and 8 staff. It's allowed me the freedom to pursue many other passions that help to keep me engaged and searching.
Aside from the school, I have worked with Operation Smile, a cleft lip and palate medical organization that provides surgeries in over 65 countries. Robyn originally got a job there and I ended up getting involved as well and understood it as a way to explore the world in a gritty way. We were always in the poorest places in the places most people will never visit and you learn empathy pretty quickly.
Traveling so frequently, we didn't even begin to realize we were beginning to have certain experience in many places that was valuable. We were approached by a guiding organization called Lifeworks that asked us to lead groups in Central America, and with the wilderness medical training we had we decided to jump at the opportunity. We've been down in working in Costa Rica the past couple of summers not only taking people through forests, but also working in pretty harsh areas affected by extreme poverty and all of the problems that happen because of it (i.e. poor education, high teen pregnancy rates, drug abuse, etc.).
After that working as a guide we met an explorer out of the UK named Dave Cornthwaite and got involved with doing full expedition travel with his foundation, Say Yes More. We recently got back from Martinique, where we were part of the first team to circumnavigate the island on standup paddleboards.
And I suppose that brings us to now. It's sort of a "one thing leads to another" story with us. Sometimes just taking one step in the direction you want to go sends off a whole series of adventures you never would have expected.
Q.Tell us about your career – what’s an average day like?
A. Depends on theday. When we're home it usually involves spending my mornings and early afternoons doing some sort of planning for either the martial arts school, Lifeworks, Say Yes More, or other projects. After that I'll head in to teach classes. When we're on the road, there is no such thing as an average day. Every one is new and filled with some sort of challenge you wouldn't have thought of when you woke up.
Q.Greatest challenges and best rewards of your current role?
A. The challenge is to keep it going. While it's true that one step in the rightdirection leads to more and more opportunities, it doesn't mean anything is handed to you. Every trip or expedition or mission we've ever been on is one we've had to scrap for. Lots of planning. Lots of logistics. Lots of time spent making all of it come together. One of the other challenges is making sure you're able to distribute energy where and how it needs to be distributed. Having all these different projects is a balancing act. You've got to be able to give your genuine attention to one project without leaving others to decay.
Q.Greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
A. Martial Arts School: Building the thing from the ground up. We started with nothing and now we're an award-winning school with so many great families and students.
Lifeworks: Watching the people we guide start to open their eyes to the world around them. Most of them come from affluent backgrounds where concepts of poverty seem distant. Putting them right next to it and watching them learn to interact with people with harshly different backgrounds is remarkably rewarding and helps me stay positive even when there are so many odds that seem stacked against the locals there.
Additionally, as most of them come from fairly sanitized lives without much outdoor experience, watching them learn how to navigate a jungle while they get bit and dirty and scream at every bug in their 10-foot range is also a silent reward of the job. Free entertainment for the guides, so to speak.
Say Yes More: Like I said above, we just finished the first circumnavigation of Martinique on SUPs and it was the most physically and mentally exhausting thing I've done, and yet it feels like it's just a warm up for something bigger. People see the starting point and the finish line, but it's the things you learn along the way are the things that shape a person.
Q.What’s next for you professionally?
A. I can only assume a wide variety of things. We'll keepexpanding our programs at the martial arts school, improving our guidingcredentials with more certifications and experience, and expanding our horizons with new expeditions to undertake. Robyn is also looking seriously at medical school or physician's assistant school, so our adventures might take us that way next, too!
Q.If you could offer a prospective or existing Augie student some advice, what would you say?
A. I've had people tell me to be fearless in pursuing my goals. That's insane. There are plenty of things worth fearing in the world. Instead, practice courage. Learning to manage fear often shows you where your real priorities lie: Are you more afraid of the risks that come with chasing your goals or are you more afraid of living a life of mediocrity?
Q.Tell us about your family.
A. Incredible people. I can only speak the best about them. My mom and dad live in Brandon, SD with my little sister who will graduate high school this year. My older sister and little brother live in Sioux Falls.
Q.What’s given you the greatest personal satisfaction since graduating from Augie? And why?
A. Again with the whole wife thing. Marrying Robyn has been the most liberating thing I've ever done. I fall in love with that girl every day and I'll keep chasing her until the day I die.
Q.A foundation for life at Augustana begins with our five core values – Christian Faith, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community and Service. How did your time at Augustana help to ensure those values remain central in your life?
A. In the end, Augie taught me how to do three things: Think, Question, Act. In that order. My experienceshelped to shape me right down to the way my thoughts enter my head. Augie helped set me up to see the world through a different set of eyes. When you're thinking critically, you tend to ask better questions. When you ask better questions, you tend to see answers others don't. And when you've taken the time to think and question, your actions feel much more deliberate and meaningful. This process has taken me all over the planet and into the homes of people from all walks and into the wild places where I find peace.