Kristen Koonts

by YES! Staff

Kristen Koonts is a world traveler. Koonts, who graduates from UNCG in May with honors, takes annual pilgrimages to Indonesia to visit her father, Mike. During her first sojourn abroad, Kristen experienced what she called “culture shock.” From a distance, Jakarta can appear to be a shining city on the hill with its monumental steel skyscrapers. But at street level, it’s an entirely different picture. When she witnessed the abject poverty of children living in the streets, Koonts said she broke down in tears. But she’s since come to realize that those living in poverty are not necessarily miserable because of their economic circumstances. “It makes you think we don’t need all the stuff we have,” she said. In fact, Indonesian children appear equally as happy as their Western counterparts. This summer, Koonts plans on visiting Bali to continue exploring different cultures and different perspectives on human happiness.