My name is Adrian, a participant of the BoldLeaders program. I went to South Africa with BoldLeaders in 2013 and it was an experience that an email, or even a in person meeting could not do justice. The South Africa team was actually supposed to go to Kenya. I was a part of a group that was going to be in a rural part of Kenya, where I thought I was going to get the “real Africa experience.” After a U.S mandated halt on all travel to the country, our trip to Kenya was cancelled. This was specifically important to me because after a training from Michael about our expectations v. outcomes, I realized that it was OK for me to live in spaces of ambiguity. I’d worked up an idea about Africa, and Kenya, and an experience that I thought I would have – and the fact that it turned out to be something I did not expect, broke me. It broke me and then it put me right back together when I started to shift my perspective on how I was approaching not only this small part of my life, but all aspects of my life.
I had done a lot of learning prior to departing for Kenya. While preparing for our trip to Kenya, I learned a great deal about myself. I knew that I was intelligent, and determined, and that I understood how to get good grades and make my teachers happy. What I didn’t really understand, was how to relieve myself of the constant stress of trying to be #1 and excelling, and connecting to folks. BoldLeaders focuses on understanding that although it is great to be on a path of knowledge and understanding, and rationalizing what we do, that there is a second path that will build character and connection to others in ways that are unimaginable: BoldLeaders calls this “being.” A part of being, is being able to connect and use our basic human resources in order to do that: things like our voice, tears, movement, laughter, and more.
I went into BoldLeaders introverted and detached from people: I left BoldLeaders with friends that I will keep forever. More than that, I left BoldLeaders understanding that if I can combine a couple of my basic human resources I can create compounds that allow me to connect to other people. For example, as I was leaving South Africa, I felt an urge to cry. I got on the van that was taking us back and it was my instinct to hold my hand up and say goodbye to my host mother one last time. As I did that, she did the same from the other side of the glass, and I saw tears in her eyes.
It was a moment like this, where I understood what BoldLeaders was about (or at least a small part of what it was about.) I used my movement, chose to raise my hand up. I was vulnerable: Felt like crying, and did that. And in turn, another woman from a completely different part of the world, did the same and for that small moment we really connected. Since BoldLeaders (and throughout the program,) I have been more reflective of myself, of how I am listening to people, serving people, collaborating with people, minding “gaps” with folks, how I use language, and how I am interacting with folks in ways that make me uncomfortable, and open.