Exactly a year ago, while I was in the middle of my Management Trainee Program in HSBC Bank, I got the opportunity to meet Scott Beale, Founder of Atlas Corps, in my home city and country Panama.

Small world, his wife was assigned to the US Embassy in Monterrey and Carlos Villereal was part of their Youth Advisory Council and also a current student in Global Leadership Program in Panama I coordinated since 2010. Scott got to speak to the July 2012 GLP class and asked them for suggestions on Panamanian social entrepreneurs that could be interested in Atlas Corps, Carlos and others suggested me and Scott, who doesn’t miss a chance to connect, got in contact with me. At the time, my goal was to learn how the for-profit world worked and operated, so I ended up very interested in Atlas Corps but turned it down temporarily.

Ten months later, with the starting of 2013, I reevaluated my goals and I came up with two new and very important things I wanted to accomplish: 1) A spiritual balance and 2) International working experience. With these two things in mind, I finally finished filling in my application for the September Class 13 for Atlas Corps.

Little that I knew, in a matter of a month I was doing my english test and having my first interviews with the Atlas staff and in a matter of days they had found a placement that really fit my profile, operations and finance manager for a social enterprise called Kopali Organics that imports and sells organic chocolate from Peruvian farmers.

I was no longer going to be Class 13 and have 6 months to figure out logistics and say good bye to everyone, I now only had 3 weeks to move my life to the warm city of Miami and start building a new life, knowledge, friendships and connections. Although thinking about it sounded stressful, it felt right and as soon as I accepted everything else started to fall into place.

Only 3 weeks after accepting to become a fellow, I found myself in the Atlas Corps offices meeting all the staff and Scott’s new baby Elliot, staying with and meeting some current fellows based in DC, sharing orientation with Nada my only classmate for class 12B and carrying 2 bags that now symboled my only belongings in this new beginning.

Although Miami is a bigger Panama, living here by yourself  and adapting to a different culture and working environment has helped me achieve goal #1 to become more spiritually balanced… which I have defined as…. to become more conscious of my behavior and reactions and to be more appreciative of my daily experiences.

Stay tune!!! Loads to be shared in this next 12 months of self-discovery!

Virginia Campo

June 4th 2013

All the pieces come together