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Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World? Hardcover – September 17, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (September 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451683553
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451683554
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Twenty-one years ago, Ziolkowski, then a student in the financial management program at GE Capital, was being groomed for a promising career, but after a backpacking trip in Nepal showed him how simple generosity could change the lives of the impoverished, he quit the course and founded the nonprofit buildOn, which brings education to inner-city teens, and transforms them into community service leaders in the U.S. and abroad. After struggling to secure funding and organize volunteers, Ziolkowski begins traveling the globe, documenting injustices in apartheid-era South Africa and among the street children of Brazil, while rallying the community to come together and build schools for their children. Along the way, he meets activists, struggling families, and even Mother Teresa, who provide encouragement and share their stories. Whether discussing female genital mutilation in Mali or the circumstances of volunteer students in Detroit, Ziolkowski balances sobering facts with an approachable writing style. His unflinching determination drove him to establish over 500 schools, turning buildOn from a nascent dream into a multimillion-dollar phenomenon. He believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same. Agent: Todd Shuster, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Sept.)

From Booklist

After watching a two-day celebration for a newly built school in Nepal while backpacking through the region in 1989, Ziolkowski was inspired enough to trade a budding financial management career for helping impoverished children. The organization he formed with his brother, Dave, and a family friend was buildOn, which 21 years later has exceeded all their expectations in motivating inner-city teens to revamp their neighborhoods and build schools around the world. Here Ziolkowski tells the full story behind his dream project and the trials he underwent both in his personal life and in convincing everyone from adolescents to school administrators to lend their time and influence to get buildOn off the ground. His challenges have included run-ins with South African militia, surviving bouts of dysentery, and navigating Harlem ghetto life, and throughout it all, his strong Christian faith has kept him afloat. Written with best-selling author Hirsch (Willie Mays, 2010) in down-to-earth prose that puts readers on the scene, Ziolkowski’s compelling story will inspire anyone yearning to help stem the tide of poverty and illiteracy. --Carl Hays

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Jim's story will be inspirational to many readers of all ages.
Don Epperson Sr
It is very easy to say what we can't do, but there are individuals all around the world who are showing that one person can indeed make a difference.
Cyrus Webb
I highly recommend this fascinating, touching and compelling book.
Joe Raab

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Mastin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Some guys finish college, spend a few years wandering around the world, experiencing cultures and working adventuresome jobs, then head back to the real world to settle down for a comfortable career and a typical American life. As Jim Ziolkowski tells in his new book Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World?, he began to follow that path, but after the adventures he had as a young man, he didn't last long in the world of finance before he knew he would never be able to settle into corporate life.

When a young Jim Ziolkowski was wandering around Nepal, he ran across a village where villagers were celebrating the building of a school funded by some British mountain climbers. That experience stuck with Ziolkowski, and a few years later, he started the non-profit that would become buildOn. Soon it became apparent that working a demanding, full-time job in corporate finance was not compatible with running a growing international charity, so he left the corporate world behind.

BuildOn has a dual focus: building schools in impoverished rural villages in several countries, and engaging lower-income American high school students in active service. In both cases, he wants to avoid an entitlement mentality and dependence. Of the work building schools, he says education is the key: "We couldn't rescue villagers; we had to empower them through education to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations." When buildOn builds a school, they only do so with the support, buy-in, and labor of the villagers themselves.

Similarly, the kids at buildOn's U.S. high school programs are not involved just for fun, free stuff, or entertainment.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cyrus Webb TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It is very easy to say what we can't do, but there are individuals all around the world who are showing that one person can indeed make a difference. Take Jim Ziolkowski. In his book WALK IN THEIR SHOES we are able to see how he was able to make amazing strides in the world around him just by making the decision to try.

It doesn't mean that everything went according to plan. Jim shares how he felt the pressure at times to succeed in his goals even when it didn't seem possible. His faith was a large part of what kept him going, and through it and amazing individuals in his life he was able to continue pressing on. There are so many lessons for us in this book. One of the biggest for me was the importance of dedicating yourself to something bigger than you. Then it is all about having the faith and courage to see it through to the end regardless of the obstacles you face. Whether he was traveling abroad or working in the states, Jim never gave up on the people around, never judged them or talked down to them. It was all about lifting others up, letting them know that they mattered.

The book also shares the personal challenges that Jim faced with his own heath as well as that of those he loved, namely his father. How his dad was able to remain strong in spite of his difficulties is sure to help others to look at what they can do and can overcome differently.For Jim the goal was to find ways to fight poverty. He used education as a weapon in that regard. What will you tackle in your life with the goal of leaving the world better than you found it? That is the question we can ask as we begin to see how our lives can be used to help others.

Powerful, passionate and full of sage lessons for us all, Jim Ziolkowski's WALK IN THEIR SHOES proves what one person can achieve.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bill Martinson on September 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Walk in Their Shoes is the story of a man who lives what he believes, and has devoted his entire life to service. Jim Ziolkowski insists that this story is not about him, but the reader can't help but be inspired by what he has accomplished. He left a promising career with GE to devote his life to empowering others to change their lives through education. He persevered when anyone else would have given up and gone back to corporate life. He doesn't just raise money - he lives and works alongside the people he wants to help. Jim listens to their stories and connects with everyone from a teenager in Detroit to a drug dealer in Harlem to villagers in Mali. He really does walk in their shoes, and challenges each of us to do the same. Jim Ziolkowski is breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations. His vision is not one of charity, but of empowering people through service and education. Read the book, connect with BuildOn, and never be the same.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MaryG on October 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book made me laugh, cry, and want to get involved in buildOn. The author's humble account of his incredible journey will inspire you. I also loved that while he was very influenced by his Catholic background, he emphasizes the importance of faith- regardless of your religion.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By GH on October 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A true and very simple story. A great example of why in today's world we need not rely upon a broken government or system but on those people closest to us (family or friends or neighbours). This story plays out in the poorest parts of America, the richest nation on earth, as well as the forgotten parts of the poorest nations. Get involved in changing the world and start with this book.
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