November 2016

November 2016

Nevada Littlewolf

This Fellow's journey has been an exciting and unexpected opportunity to learn more about myself, my potential and my community. The Bush Leadership Fellowship has allowed me to return to college to complete my degree at the University of Minnesota Duluth's School of Fine Arts. This Spring 2017, I will finally have my Bachelor's of Fine Arts and it feels incredible. The resources and support that Bush provided has made this feat less stressful and more realistic to achieve. Being in an education/college community after over decade has really opened my eyes to my own possibilities and potential. While it's challenging to be a non-traditional student at age 40, I have enjoyed the energy of being around the young adult students. And I'm learning new technology and new practices that help me look beyond what I understood before. I am learning about filmmaking, digital design and creative thinking. These are things I can bring to my work at my non-profit organization. Besides looking to next semester and my senior art exhibit at the Tweed, I am looking past UMD to what lies beyond. I have been uncertain what type of master's program I will go into, but fairly certain it will involve public policy. With the fellowship, I am learning to keep all options open and be personally open to the potential of something very different or much larger coming into my life. I feel like I was living in a small box with pinholes and suddenly with the Bush Fellowship, there's a world of possibilities for me. It seems like around any corner, I could meet someone or open a door to a new experience or opportunity that will shift me, my life, and my world. The personal experience opportunity of TEDWomen 2016 was incredible. I was able to connect with other Bush Fellows and hear and see a variety of global women leaders. My fellowship centers on women's leadership and this was a perfect fit for my goals. I met two women from Iceland. This is significant because in my second year of my fellowship, I plan to visit Iceland. It seems like everywhere along this journey, I'm connecting with people who care about the world, work hard, and share a positive spirit and vision. I know my second year of the fellowship will take me to other places in the world through international travel experience. For the time being, I am enjoying talking to people about their international travel experiences as I am trying to learn more and figure out how I will do it independently for the first time ever next year. Through these conversations, I am meeting even more new and interesting people. I live in rural northeastern Minnesota and I realize how important it is to take time to invest in myself and my leadership, so I can bring resources back to my community. For a while now, I have felt like I have been spinning my wheels, not making progress, and not feeling good about the work. This fellowship was exactly the thing I needed to get out of the rut, re-focus, re-build, and move forward. My life's work has been to champion justice issues. The state of politics right now feels very despairing. I'm so thankful to be a part of the Bush Leadership Fellowship community and having access to innovative and progressive leaders. More than ever, I believe we have to be strong, smart and ready to lead. As an American Indian, indigenous first nation's Anishinaabe woman, this is even more important. The fellowship is helping with that and I have every intention of continuing to lead the good fight for people around social, gender, racial, food, environmental, indigenous, and juvenile justice in an intersectional way. My time has been very precious and I am making the most out of every minute. Some people told how much easier things would be with the fellowship and I agree in the sense that it provides resources that weren't there before. I now have a reliable vehicle (much less stressful) and don't have to worry about student debt, as examples. However, the fellowship has me working just as hard or harder in a more focused way than before. My days feel much longer than they did before and more impactful. The fellowship also gives me space and time to think about my own health and well-being. It's incredible that I'm now member of a gym and work-out, something I haven't done in years since I was younger. In general, I feel healthier- physically, mentally and spiritually. The resources and support make all the difference and I'm grateful for this amazing opportunity. It's very difficult to put into words how appreciative I am. Mi'iw. Miigwetch.