My name is Karina Ito, I am an Atlas Corps Fellow from Brazil serving at the US Fund for UNICEF  in New York.

Some days before I went to Washington DC for my orientation week, I was told by one of the staff that I was the only woman in a group of 7 fellows.

At first, I have to say that I became a little apprehensive. I had never been in such a position before, and that made me wonder if I should behave differently or be more conscious of gender differences.

In the days that followed, some things made me overcome my insecurities and realize how lucky I really am. This blog is about these facts.

The first fact has to do with my past.  In 2010, when I was interning for ICMEC (The International Center for Missing and Exploited Children), I first heard about Atlas. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with the most vibrant group of women Fellows, who dreamed of making this world a safer one for children. Katia, Asmita, Shamila and Gamu, your work is inspiring. Thank you for your unending support. I will always look up to you.

The second fact is about my present. The 5 gentlemen I met last week – O’Rain, Luckmore, Luis, Aldo and Oge, are wonderful and made me feel so welcome. Thank you for including me in the group. I couldn’t have wished for better companions in this journey we have just started. I am certain that we will become good friends in the years to come.

The final fact is about what I want my future to be like.

Together with other Atlas Fellows I attended an event by Vital Voices (http://www.vitalvoices.org/). This year was the 11th Annual Global Leadership Awards, and it recognized emerging women leaders who are making a difference in other people’s lives and advancing human rights and equality for all. Both the non-profit and the awards were envisioned by a very powerful woman, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The ladies who received the awards showed me that you can be strong and gracious at the same time. These women are beautiful, wise, fearless, kind, humble, and so inspiring. If you have some time, do read about their stories and struggles. I hope you feel as energized as I did.

So this is it for my first blog entry. Let the games begin!

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