I chose this photo of me in front of my mom’s former high school in Santa Ana, El Salvador, because I was, in many respects, a student during this fellowship. I have always said what I love about my job the most is that the world is my classroom. I learn something new from each and every person I come across and all the places and cultures I’m exposed to. Some of the things I learned during this fellowship were:
* How to remain calm (not just pretend to be calm) in exhaustive, stressful situations.
* A reminder of the great potential that comes in working in a collaborative, effective team environment.
* A refresher on how to share your “me” time with others in a graceful and gracious way.
* How to adapt to a constantly-changing, demanding environment
* How conducting interviews in a foreign land can differ from one’s home country.
* How to take risks and try new things and experiences.
* How to escape if tied in handcuffs, duct tape or a zip tie.
* How I might possibly react/respond in a kidnapping situation in a foreign land.
* How to be much more aware of my surroundings.
* How I might potentially react/respond in a shooting
* Self-defense techniques that could save my life or that of another person’s one day
* Basic emergency response techniques that could also save my life or that of another person’s someday.
* The genuine realization how fortunate I am to be an American woman with rights and privileges others could only dream of.
* How not to sweat the small stuff as much, and realize that perfectionism will never guarantee perfection.
Thank you IWMF for this invaluable experience.