My colleagues and I have delivered 35,360 hours of international service at thirteen host organizations with offices in 5 different cities in the United States of America from September 7, 2011 – August 17, 2012.I have learned from the qualities of hard work, commitment to social development, national pride, and the willingness to share exhibited by this dynamic group of 17 nonprofit leaders, representing 13 different countries and four continents.I will transition from this Fellowship with the knowledge that when next I stop-over in Madrid, Nairobi, Islamabad, or Sao Paulo, there would be a warm and comfortable place to stay.
Atlas Corps Class 7 is a unique group. As a positive consequence of our diverse professional backgrounds, and service at host organizations with different social missions, we have made contributions towards achieving the 8 United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We have contributed to maintaining employee health and wellbeing through GBCHealth, led advocacy initiatives for women and families to have access to contraceptive services through Population Action International,actively contributed towards maintaining world peace through Service for Peace, HasNa, and the Global Citizens Network, and advocated for the rights of children through the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
I learned important lessons during the Fellowship year that will remain a positive influence in my personal and professional life. I intend to transfer the knowledge and skills acquired from this experience to make positive contributions to the non-profit and social development sectors in Nigeria and worldwide. In speaking with other colleagues, I know that a similar commitment exists.I hope we take forward the critical learnings from this experience and continue finding creative, innovative and energetic ways to help solve the world’s most pressing social problems.
After 365 days of active service, we gather to reflect upon and celebrate our achievements as a group committed to the mission of the Atlas Corps network, which is to be service oriented leaders that contribute our knowledge, skills and energy to address critical social issues in our different countries and in the world. Our commitment to this mission has served as a motivation to overcome challenges experienced during the Fellowship year.
Service oriented leadership is required for sustainable social development
As we move-on to the next stage of our careers, I share with you two critical qualities that a service oriented leader should possess to influence sustainable social development.
First, service oriented leaders know their strengths and identify areas for personal
improvement.Service oriented leaders use their best skills to leverage support and mobilize the community towards adopting social development initiatives.This is critical to achieve sustainable social development because effective social change is built on community-based responses,which address underlying social problems on an individual, institutional, community, national and/or international level.
Second,service oriented leaders are committed people.Their beliefs align with the social mission. In essence, service oriented leaders walk their talk. This attribute helps to motivate support for the social mission as people are often willing to cooperate with a dedicated leader that shares similar beliefs and values.
It is important to emphasize that social change leaders face challenges. Just as with all ventures in life, there would be segments of the society that will oppose implementation of social development initiatives. However, it is the commitment of service oriented leaders to influence social change and development that motivates and spurs them on.
The development of service oriented leaders entails a systematic process of training, mentorship, exposure to best practices models, and practical experience platforms. I acknowledge the important role of the Atlas Corps team, supervisors at host organizations, and Atlas Corps community ambassadors through all phases of this leadership training experience. On behalf of my colleagues, I express our appreciation for all your efforts.
Finally,the collaboration of all stakeholders is necessary to achieve sustainable social
development. I suggest the adoption of the Atlas Corps model, which provides the platform to establish networks of service oriented leaders, collective-action institutions, and communities committed to achieving social development. This will help accelerate progress towards achieving the 2015 targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Atlas Corps Class 7, “We received the baton of Service 365 days ago, together – we
have run the race, delivered social services, and we have arrived at the finish line in Atlas Corps record time”. In this Olympic Year, we celebrate our collective “gold medal”, and we challenge future leaders to continue to uphold the Atlas Corps values and to drive forward with energy and commitment.