What stands out to you/has surprised you about your leadership development through the Fellowship to date?
What has stood up to me and has surprised me about my leadership development through the Fellowship to date is a new or renewed understanding of the importance of being a spiritually grounded leader.
In the years that have been doing this work; I also spent seven years as a member of an Aztec Dancing group named Ollin Ayacaxtly – now based out of Northfield and continues to be community run/organized and operated. Practically a handful of families from the town are the members who have been holding this space for an alternative and well know source of spirituality and ethical formation. In addition to this, I do feel the need of full disclosure and say that I also have attended a catholic boarding school during my JR high-school years; the school stands in the city of Chalco, Estado de Mexico. Villa de los Niños and in order to not get tangled in the details it’s a schools that combines a catholic driven mission from the Virgin of the poor and operating as a charitable organization that provides excellent academic curriculum and formation to the children of marginalized communities in each of the five countries that Villa de los Niños is present now.
During the 11 day Minnesota – Bellingham delegation this past may; I intentionally spent four days on the road with nine Latino leaders; the youngest being and experienced rally participant 7 years old (Brandon Leyva is now famous among farm workers in Yakima, WA). During this entire trip I found myself utilizing both spiritual knowledge, understanding and application to our current world view(s); these happening during most conversations with the whole spectrum of community leaders/activist/spiritual leaders. The driving hours was the time when I found myself working from both aspects; indigenous spirituality & catholic spirituality. Happens to be very complex; given our history of Spanish colonization and centuries of religious inquisition; now we have a another paradigm where as a community we live in both worlds and we come from both worlds.
As a Danzante I developed relationships across the country and across borders; as the summer goes by faster than how I would like it, I can’t help and go back to a constructive comment from July of last year. “Your enthusiasm is contagious as well. What is clear to me between the lines, is how this reflects your skills and capacity to establish lines of connection and meaningful relationship rather easily despite regional, unique cultural and other socio-economic difference, all done over a short period of time and contact”. John Glover – Current Bush Fellow
I also became a parent last year as the fellowship was becoming real and one year later I have come to realize that something that stands out from my leadership is also something that I have neglected; perhaps on the assumption that I had it “under control” when in reality its also that as a leader in my community I have not intentionally develop and grow spiritually. As a father I feel a renewed responsibility to grow spiritually in order to become a better leader for my family and my community. I have been rethinking the next year of my fellowship and including the maximum amount of time and resources that I can in order to have the opportunity to spiritually grow as much as my leadership skills grow. I am also well aware that this would deepen relationship and open the door for new ones; something that for its fuel for doing this work. I had an un-explained anxiety and anticipation about this log but the more and more I felt comfortable with my vision the more excited I became about what is left for me to work as a Bush Foundation Fellow.
It has been somewhat transformational to go to the process of getting to this point of putting these thoughts into writing. There is certain relief and not in the way of getting something that needs to done out of the way; this is more of a feeling of being grounded on a vision that now has a new light. A collective and constant source of energy that is always around me and along with me, the encouragement fro my community; the inspiration I get from the work of my Bush Fellow colleagues and community leaders in rural Minnesota. This grounding and vision is also a product of listening to my mentors and all of those people that this work keeps on providing me with the privilege of time and space and the resources to be present as a whole.