I am now at the 3-month milestone on my journey as an Atlas Corps Emerging Global Leader Fellow. This is the opportune time to reflect on my experience to date and measure achievements against planned objectives.

I started this journey with a sense of indifference and accepting that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  So my one goal was that, at the end of this fellowship, I should be a better version of myself.  Yes, it is almost SMART – not that specific but, it is measurable, achievable, relevant, and definitely time-bound.   Hence, to make it more specific, I defined “better version of myself” as growth, both professionally and personally. Finally, I established two strategic objectives to guide this growth, listing the desired outcome to measure success.

Capture 2

Strategic Objective (SO) 1

My first objective is to learn.

On a personal level, I simply wanted to learn to live with gratitude. I quickly recognized that in order to do that, I must allow myself to grieve (as I lost the dearest person to me, my mom, and still grieve for her to this day), and be patient as I go through the stages of this process.   I also realized that to be truly grateful, I had to learn to give myself a break.  Yes, Kim, stop beating up on yourself!

So, as of today, am I more grateful?   I am.  More grateful than I was when I started this journey.  More grateful than I was last week.  Do I have an attitude of gratitude every day?  AB-SO-LUTE-LY…NOT!  Please, these things don’t just happen overnight!  I do relapse but I am grateful that relapses are not often AND are usually triggered by eventualities such as having my eyebrows butchered or my phone falling on the train track.  Although, I must point out that in the latter instance, I was tremendously grateful that it was the phone that fell onto the tracks and not me; and, in the former I was grateful that I was able to redraw my eyebrows.

Professionally, I set out to seize every learning opportunity that would arise on this journey.  After I understood the structure of my host organization, Heartland Alliance International (HAI), I created a learning plan – identifying and mapping the different learning opportunities and what I needed to do to tap into those opportunities. I had my eyes set on the program development team.  It was love at first sight: proposal writing, budgeting, M & E Frameworks, and gaining a better understanding of the donor environment.  It was also familiar territory so I quickly identified what aspects were new and areas I wanted to improve upon.

Has my experience measured up to my initial objective so far?

Hell yeah!  In fact, what I’ve learned so far has exceeded the limited scope I had sketched out for myself.  My supervisor has been a great teacher and mentor, more than she is willing to give herself credit for.  I am a student and HAI is my classroom.  I’ve been building my capacity in program development, which was further strengthened by my participation in a week-long program development boot camp.  My Spanish has improved tremendously. I’m now more confident speaking in Spanish – all thanks to my supervisor – who insisted that I should speak it even if I’m speaking crap and started a Spanish club for me to speak with fluent speakers.

I’ve been exposed to new areas such as trauma-informed approaches to development programs and gained a greater understanding of the issues of trafficking in persons, exploitation, and abuse in certain regions of the world.  I’ve also ventured into a different field altogether – Human Resources – working on salary scales and labor laws.  Finally, I’ve been humbled and learned to appreciate that even the simplest of tasks can become a huge challenge because of the attitude one takes in approaching said task.

I started this blog post with the aim of reflecting on all my objectives to date.  Let’s just say the learning has been so tremendous, I have to leave the Exploration bit (that is, SO 2) for part 2.