“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama
The dream of the borderless world is the product of our globalised age. States are no longer the only prominent actors in international relations and diplomacy. Borders are becoming less meaningful. NGOs, civil society organisations, and individuals are becoming important actors in our complex world. From this point of view, the Atlas Corps fellowship program is an amazing model for the world. It illustrates the power of individuals who came together, creating this large global community for addressing challenges in our time.On November 19, we celebrated our ten-year anniversary with a great crowd from different NGOs, the U.S. State Department, corporations, the White House, academics, and of course, our amazing fellows from more than 70 countries. All guests of the Gala were inspired by our Fellows’ success stories. Atlas Corps is like a big country with a very diverse community that we need in today’s world, amidst the rise of populist, nationalist and discriminative narratives in many regions. In fact, to enter the Atlas Corps country you don’t need to have any certain passport or privilege. You don’t need to belong to any nation, religion, ethnicity or family. The only requirement to become a member of this country is sharing the common values of social change, leadership and diversity.
In the Atlas Corps fellowship program, young professional leaders from all around the world come together, share their experiences, learn from each other, and create an amazing synergy for social change. They’re not complaining about how the world has become insecure, how their governments work ineffectively, or how resources are limited. They just stand up and take an action in their country or region. They’re all open minded, ready to explore new cultures, and optimistic about their futures.
It has been a year since I started my fellowship. I am still learning and framing how should I bring these experiences to my home country, Turkey, and contribute my humble efforts to unsolvable problems. As a young leader, we are the changemakers, we are the people that need to start small but dream big. Each of us has a social issue we are focusing on, from human rights to the environment. Living in turbulent times, the only way forward is increasing mutual understanding, learning from each other, advocating our fears and concerns, and building partnerships for a purpose. That’s why my fellow Fellows think, “the sky is the limit. Just believe in yourself and your power.”
Everybody has a dream, especially the people who care about others and who are passionate to change something. The Atlas Corps family has a big dream of creating a better society and through social change. The only way to dispose of fear knows others who are different than you. The Atlas Corps fellowship is a great model for learning more about other cultures and their way of thinking. Expanding people-to-people ties and empowering local and young leaders are becoming important tools for overcoming broader disputes.
The world is witnessing rise of populist leaders in many countries, emerging radical groups, and hate speech that turns from just discourse into votes and reality. What we all need is mutual understanding, cultural awareness, inclusive narratives, and learning from different perspectives instead of avoiding them. So, I think the Atlas Corps Fellowship program represents the new way of diplomacy. Atlas Corps is empowering future great leaders and creating a big platform for sharing experiences. These young leaders, when they go back to their countries, will involve different institutions in their societies and shape their country’s future in a positive way.
This harmony among different voices has been and still is my major inspiration when approaching the society I live in as well as the problems it faces. This inspiration has led me to become an active citizen, which is a building block of a successful society. Hence, as an open minded and observant individual, I have been motivated by the realities of my society and region. The multicultural environment under the logo of the Atlas Corps further developed my abilities to understand and learn, as well as adopt different perspectives on a multitude of topics from global justice to leadership. A successful society depends on an established partnership among citizens, civil society, and youth. It has been an incredibly intriguing and educational experience for me. The diverse people that I am fortunate to work with offered me different perspectives than what I am accustomed to, and opened my eyes to the problems that and hardships that humanity faces in our diverse world.
We are able to gain perspectives on different topics from an epistemic community of diverse beliefs and backgrounds. The Atlas Corps fellowship is helping us develop our knowledge and obtain a well-rounded understanding of the current issues that we are facing within all denominations, cultures, and political perspectives. It has also provided us great insight as to how young leaders from all around the world can and will be shaped into the future, as well as how we can contribute to creating a positive image of our societies in such trying times. This fellowship is an invaluable experience for us and has shaped our future goals in regards to the societal and cultural topics that were covered. I highly recommend this program to any person that is interested in the topic and seeking a wide array of opinions regarding social change and the for-purpose sector in current times.