By Lauren Foote
Greg Mook graduated from Youngstown State University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and editing, but he didn’t take a conventional path after graduation.
“After I graduated from YSU, I was not getting paid much to do what I had a degree in,” Mook said. “I needed a job. I was not interested in a lot of writing or editing jobs.”
He had been working with ministries since 2005 with middle and high school students. He did a lot of short-term mission trips to do humanitarian work and tell people about Jesus through action and work. A desire to help people led to an interest in becoming an emergency medical technician.
“With the work in disaster relief I got more involved, and a friend of mine was an EMT, and we had the same thought in working in disaster relief, so I just kind of jumped into it,” Mook said. “What can I do to help people after a disaster? Oh look, this is something. I did the EMT and Paramedic program right after that and got certified in both at YSU.”
He worked for Americorps in New Orleans in 2009 conducting surveys and working with middle school students. It built on a connection he developed with the city following Hurricane Katrina.
“My church had taken three trips to new Orleans. They were like weeklong trips,” Mook said. “I developed a relationship with the community center down there that was doing rebuilding some with gutting the houses and cleaning them up and eventually rebuilding them.”
Mook is currently working as a paramedic and finishing his master’s degree in global studies. He said he’s feeling a pull to do similar work overseas on a long-term basis.
“I started looking into doing my master’s degree in global studies for seminary. It is cross-cultural, and you need to do an internship,” Mook said. “I have a contact in Lebanon, and he got back to me and said to come on over there. I went there for six months. It was a really cool experience.”
Mook will be talking at TEDx Youngstown in January about the idea of being welcome to other cultures.
“The idea of making people feel welcome, how it relates to the refugee situation and to leaving Syria and leaving Iraq and going to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and then heading up to Europe and the United States,” Mook said. “It is hard to find a welcoming country, welcoming in the attitudes of the country and the government but also just finding a place to live and work.”
He said there is a lot of conflict in the world: religious, social, racial and the idea of “welcome” could have a broader application.
“If we expand our idea of welcome more often, we can maybe come up with better solutions than just yelling at each other all the time,” Mook said. “That is gonna be the application of the talk.”
He said he hopes the talk will encourage people to communicate.
“I’ll be happy if people listen to each other more, despite their good friendships, hopefully sit down with one another and talk out different points of view instead of polarizing everything and arguing all the time,” Mook said.
He said people are often too quick to make judgments without accounting for social or cultural differences.
“Find something or someone that differs from you and communicate. People have a very good reason for living the way that they do and believing in the things they believe in,” Mook said. “Sometimes we want to look past that and change their way of thinking without considering all the aspects of that person.”