What does it mean for me to be an International Fellow with iLEAP?

iLEAP's 2011 Fellows after a class session about Organizational Traumas

As I am trying to summarize all the things that I have experienced so far, it is becoming harder and harder to describe. I have been thinking a lot about where my vision began: with one person, one heart, and one leader that joined a family in Seattle with the intention of making an impact on the global community.

I think the best way to start this is with a question that I received from one of the visitors from last Tuesday night’s speaker series event with iLEAP. What does it mean for me to be an International Fellow with iLEAP? I have had many responses to this pass through my mind but for some reason I didn’t pick the one that ‘I assume’ would be the good response. Now I decided to answer that question for myself and based on my time in the program, with the hope that someday that person will read it.

Being an international fellow of iLEAP means to recognize that I am holding the tension in the middle of the gap between what is the reality and what might be, serving for the common good in the work that I do in my country. Working with women who have no access to credit, Haitian immigrants, people with HIV/AIDS, and those who are living on less than $2 a day are a reflection of poverty and social inequality in my country. But for me, it is an incredible experience to see how people react with one opportunity in their hands, breaking themselves away from their bindings and proving me that real change is possible in their lives. And I was wondering, If this is possible in the lives of people, don’t you think this could happen in the systems and the infrastructure that have them oppressed?

I am an International Fellow of iLEAP, and for me this means to envision a better society, This means jumping  from the comfortable status quo to claim social justice and equality. Ít is the opportunity to improve my knowledge, acquire new techniques, and more, the confidence to believe and be a new generation of leaders who will do as much as possible to build a better-run global community. It is the constant process of transforming my intentions into reality.

At this point of the program I feel that my motivation and passion have been rejuvenated. I’ve been learning new concepts through the different sessions, guest speakers, and several visiting organizations involved with the development work. Also, I have met wonderful people who would like to join us in this path to serve others.

Ethical Leadership encouraged my heart to lead from the inside out and to understand leadership as a tool to practice justice for others. Reflective Practice exercises will help me in evaluating the systematic process for different options to create a new reality. Sessions about communications, collaboration, and philanthropy are helping me to see in the wonderful net of support that individuals and organizations are providing, connecting resources and partnering with grassroots organizations.

I have had the opportunity to visit so many places with my fellows, my host family and my friends from Seattle. Famous ones like Pike Market, Space Needle, Seattle Center, Rattlesnake Mountain, and museums have allowed me to understand a bit more not just the history of Seattle but also how to use the public transportation here. Through all this, I realized that this is very different than in my country. What I most like about this, is that people are able to leave their cars in a parking garage to use the public buses. I can’t describe to you how great this is!

I can keep going on of all the things that I am experiencing but I won’t have enough space. It doesn’t matter if the person who asked me about the meaning of being an international fellow reads this, I think the answer is most important for me in order to take action. There are too many things to learn in order to continue shaping this definition. I’m really looking forward for what is coming up in the final four weeks and I can’t wait to experience it!



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