My original thought about this question was revolving around some of the most pronounce stages of feelings or emotions that the entire process of the Fellowship has caused or affected in its entire trajectory; by now being well over 18 months when us current Fellows began this journey, the anticipation, anxieties through the selection stages and the culmination of the interviews.
If I would have wanted better advice before applying to the Fellowship; I don’t think I would have gotten it. The process of the Fellowship changes as the program itself evolves – I think this was my biggest take away from the retreat I took part of this summer and in some way its what I have been using as my tool to explain what the Fellowship process was for “us”(2015 Fellows) and what it will look like two years from now its something I don’t know; because the Fellowship program its ever evolving. In reality this is something I have wanted to be part of – a process of interlinked leadership across a region and expertise that seek to improve the current living conditions of those same communities as a ever evolving process; in a way its what I would call a living social organism.
The network of Bush Fellows is bigger and greater than first imagine - that would have been good advice. From the arts to the social justice the range of past Fellows is a great as a catalogue of conversations/dinners I wish I could have; the time and the learning that I could garnish from each one of the past Fellows was one of my thoughts. The lives behind the stories of great success and those whose change and transformation was so personal that they found a new self a more powerful and peaceful self. I also think to myself and what about our families and friends who not only support us in spirit but also morally because with out them we would not have the moral compass each one of us have develop through the years. Becoming one of the Fellows is becoming part of a new family and with that comes a new environment in which one can grow with the support and energy of our peers.
Those distant relatives (Bush Fellows) who drop in the holidays and special occasions; conferences, happy hour, sector related, etc (with in the context of the non-profit & philanthropic ecosystems that we now are part of) how we have acquired new relatives; cousins, aunts and uncles as well as some half sisters & brothers. The retreat was certainly the best way to start us off as I see it; being able to meet the rest of the Fellows in more than just a bio but to also get a chance to get close to them and to further understand their passions as well as their barriers.
At some point there has to be this realization and understanding that relationships are 3-Dimensional; what happens to oneself has an effect on those around us – especially those closer. The family and friends who are with you while you are going through changes or shifts in our life are those same people who get to understand you better since they have seen you grow, they have seen you fail and try again and once again as one embarks on this journey of not just being a Bush Fellow but becoming the Bush Fellow is one of the hardest things to process.
I sometimes still think about that original plan I had to apply to the Fellowship program some four years ago; thinking it was too big of a task. It seems very blur to even think about the original idea I had for 2015 and while most of us enter this process with certain knowing facts about what we want and seek we also enter this with a certain level of uncertainty and in that are is where I am most excited to see where the Bush Fellowship take each one of us in way that might be so uncertain but the best option/choice or opportunity; we are here to learn from each other as much as we are here to learn from oneself.
This past six months would also feel like my first two months; the semester is over and I made new friends. Some of us could not make our busy schedules work this time around and some distance has kept us lightly communicated. As I was thinking about this report I could not help myself but to reshape my planning for the next six months – the SHIPS that got me here need to be included and those who have been on the distant side need to be closer. The beginning has been very good, exciting and productive; the remaining is looking better.