Managing a team of teenagers from a different culture was not something I thought I could do. But over the last three years, I have grown into an understanding and servant leader. I enjoy being a cultural bridge between our students and the hosting community (Rwandan host families, peers, and internships).
This is the best story I have heard from one of our return students.
"Everyone I had known that traveled to Africa did so to give it something or to spread something or build something or fix something. As I spent time there, I began to wonder if Africa was tired of people trying to give it everything when those people had so much to receive from it. I wondered how helpful it truly was to have outsiders impose on their matters and take the role of superhero. I wondered if this made Africans feel more incompetent than helped, if perhaps it hurt more than it helped.
In these wonderings, I quickly accepted that I did not have much to give Rwanda and that had so much to give me. My beautiful host family gave me a sense of unconditional, cross-cultural love that I will never fully be able to articulate the sweetness of. The scenery and slowness of it all gave me the space to find peace and solitude. The genocide gave me an understanding of radical reconciliation and how tragedy shapes culture. The vast differences in our cultures gave me a sense of the beautiful diversity of humanity but also the inherent commonality of it.
More than anything, Rwanda gave me the chance to take ownership of the things I felt I had become all year and simply be them. It was a time of being a woman and taking pride in that, it was being an admirer of beauty, it was being confident in my capabilities to explore and navigate on my own, it was being present in the stillness, it was being one with others, it was being freely myself in sweet community, it was being an advocate for others, it was, more than anything, being a girl who can do hard, daunting things.
In Rwanda, I had a great sense of accomplishment. Despite the challenges and anxieties of the year, Rwanda showed me that I did it and I am doing it and I can do it. For this, I am so grateful. I hope someday I can give back to Rwanda all it gave me and to use what it gave me to fight the good fight in the world."
I would choose the Middle East (Jordan and Israel) program. I would want to learn and explore the middle eastern culture and learn about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
Our company is unique in a sense that it has a small but multicultural team. This helps us understand the world much better. I was very proud of my team last July when we had a visionary meeting and it was such an insightful time as people presented their regional programs which of course were different in the format but all giving the same experience.
I believe the biggest factor in becoming a successful company is to have a committed and skilled team that has a strong belief in the company mission, vision, and values.