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COVID-19 Racial Injustice

Report date
July 2019
Learning Log

Going into this fellowship, I knew I was going to change. What I didn’t know is how much more I would become myself.
Throughout the application process, the hardest question for me was “How will you be different as a result of the fellowship?” It’s one of those questions that’s critically important to ask oneself, while simultaneously being impossible to answer. First of all, it’s hard to know what we don’t know, and I accept my limitations in seeing into the future. I knew I couldn’t offer the level of confidence answering that question as I could the other questions.
And second, I knew the answer I wanted to blurt out was insufficient: “I’ll be more confident.” It’s flat, it’s vague, and it doesn’t suggest a nuanced awareness of my leadership approach or potential. But yet, if you ask me now, “How is the fellowship changing you?,” the simplest answer is just a modified version of that sentiment: “I’m more certain.” Not the same thing, but close.
So yes, it’s changing me in some anticipated ways. That said, as an applicant I had not been able to conceptualize the nuances of how the fellowship would impact my assuredness. Absolutely, having the thoughtful support and “endorsement” of the Bush Foundation allowed me to see myself more clearly through outside eyes. And yes, having access to training and classes and conferences brings a sense of knowledgeableness, which is important for someone who is very much self-trained in leadership and community development as I was. My anticipation of both of these angles was accurate.
But what I did not anticipate is how much all of these opportunities for learning would not necessarily transform me into something new but would validate who I already am, who I always was, and give me a certainty that I am exactly who I need to be right now, for this moment in time, for this community. In fact, I am more “me” that I ever was, more open to owning and sharing all parts of my identity, more aware of what I naturally bring to the table so that I can hone these specific elements.
I want to be clear: I have not walked away from any one of these classes and trainings thinking, “Well, I guess I’m already doing just fine. No further development required.” What I have gained from many of these opportunities is a greater awareness of *how* I had been able to do what I had done thus far, a chance to think about how I got here, and a greater appreciation for those traits and experiences I bring. They have reinforced much about my approach, while also showing me how I can better develop those skills to better allow me to follow through with my core values and vision.
In that way, I have entered year 2 of the fellowship with a much greater certainty of what I am doing here. And I’m a truer Robin than I’ve ever been.