I started the Atlas Corps Fellowship on Tuesday, January 19, 2016. AND Wow! What a journey so far? I met 26 of the most inspiring global leaders—go Class 20!
I experienced my first record-breaking snowstorm AND, I was a speaker at the State Department. To top it all, I started with my host organisation- Heartland Alliance- last Monday- February 1, 2016. If I thought I was impressed with their work before arriving, one my first day I was blown away!-Totally unexpected- I wasn’t ready for the feeling that came over me. But that’s for my next blog 🙂 Back to to the meat of this blog- ‘ How Professional Exchanges, through Programs such as the Atlas Corps Emerging Global Leadership Initiative, strengthen global collaboration in tackling social challenges’
The Atlas Corps Fellowship has renewed my belief in the interconnectedness of our world. Our challenges, while amplified by the uniqueness of our social, economic and cultural context, are not limited to, or confined within a particular country or region. They are all global in nature and, therefore, require a solid understanding of the larger global community, if we are to effectively tackle these challenges.
Through Professional exchanges, the concept of a global community and, the notion of global collaboration in addressing these challenges, is strengthened. These exchanges enhance civil society development by providing a platform for talents and ideas to cross boarders.
Take my home of Jamaica. We are an island yet we are not isolated in our opportunities and social challenges. In fact, one may argue we have a great need to connect with those outside our shores for a broader view on our challenges. Together, we can create a global social toolkit of sorts with ideas for different approaches to addressing key international challenges. Approaches that are not broad stroke and one dimensional but instead, are based on the cultural context and experiences of other civil society leaders with similar and/or unique constraints. Fellowships like Atlas Corps facilitate the enhancement of skills and not the imposition of perspectives—creating a space for collaboration and co-creation.
For instance, some of the issues that Jamaica is facing today – discrimination or the desire for more gender equality, can be informed by how these issues have been tackled in other countries such as Pakistan and South Sudan, through discussions with fellows from these countries. These open exchanges enable sharing of different approaches, challenges, and best practices; and, may trigger new ideas of doing things that can be modified and implemented within one’s country.
I became an Atlas Corps Fellow as an opportunity to develop my skills and, more importantly, to join this dynamic global network. I see this fellowship as an avenue to steer the development of my own country, Jamaica. As such, my goal after the Fellowship is to continue my work in development, utilizing the diverse knowledge and experience gained to strengthen the capacity of the organizations and communities in which I serve. Specifically, I aim to assist – through the use of all resources and channels available to me – in the cultivation and continued engagement of youth-leaders in order to better able to meet the country’s current and future challenges.
In general, professional exchanges develop civil society leaders by providing a global space for dialogue, shared experiences and ideas. They allow for greater understanding of issues beyond the local purview in which they would otherwise operate and, hence fosters multi-perspectives, and the development of new skills and innovative approaches to solutions.
Thank you to all of you, especially the U.S. Embassy Jamaica, for believing in the power of Atlas Corps and for giving us the opportunity to join this thriving network of inspired individuals from around the world!