An intensive, 12-week leadership experience that equips students worldwide with powerful skills for a lifetime of social impact. Designed as a 5-7 hour per week commitment, the Academy adds an enriching layer of purpose to high school, college, travel, or work.
A deep, 8-month immersion where students live alongside the global majority in Brazil, Ecuador or India and develop the insights, skills, and network to become the leaders our world needs. Fellows build language fluency, develop resilience, and become part of a community a world away from home.
Je veux que les baobabs m’embrassent… I want the baobabs to kiss me?!?!
Welp, six years of middle and high school French probably didn’t prepare me for this. In an effort to be mystical and romantic I tried to tell a friend in French that while in Senegal I hope to be embraced by the baobabs- as a metaphor for being welcomed into the community- but instead only achieved displaying my incompetencies in French, and an odd relationship dynamic with trees.
I started keeping a journal in July in order to document my journey, and this slightly embarrassing, yet inspiring, incident caused me to make a list of my fears in one of my journal entries. I wrote:
Right now as I write I am a mixture of excited, scared, and worried. My fears come from my worries. I’m worried that:
I’m not as good at French as I’d like to be, and I’ll struggle
My host family won’t like me, and I’ll be uncomfortable
I won’t fit in to my host community.
However, rather than stay negative, I also wrote a list of the things I am excited for. I wrote:
I’m excited that:
I’m be immersed in a place where I’ll get to use French, and hopefully become fluent.
I’ll get to meet new people and hear their stories.
I’ll hopefully gain life long friends.
I’ll get to see new scenery- especially the huge baobab trees.
I’ll get to try new things.
I’ll hopefully come out a changed person for the better.
In making these two lists I realized that, though my fear list was shorter, I wrote my fears without any words of uncertainty such as ‘hopefully’, but used words of uncertainty with my list of things I’m excited for. So without having even left for pre-departure training yet, I have already gained two lessons from my upcoming journey:
Stay positive. Don’t perceive your fears as if you know they will happen, but your excitements as if they only might happen. No one knows the future, so why not hope for the best. Negative thoughts only cause anxiety, but positive thoughts cause us to work harder in order to make those positive things happen, and make the world seem just that much better.
You’re going to fail sometimes, maybe even make a fool of yourself, but once you learn not to take yourself so seriously, and can laugh things off, you’ll be just fine. And at risk of sounding like a cliché Taylor Swift song- shake it off; dust yourself off and keep going. If you let a little hiccup make you lose sight of what you want to achieve, then you’re only holding yourself back. There’s no situation more embarrassing than looking back at a life of regrets, and having to admit to yourself that you’re the only reason why.
As per today (August 17, 2017) I have a little over a week (10 days) till I leave for pre-departure training, and I hope my fears and excitements carry me through even more life lessons as I place myself outside of my comfort zone- not just in location, but in thoughts and my way of life.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
About Ebunoluwa Akinbode
Ebunoluwa is passionate about people. She loves to write poetry that explore different perspectives of the human existance. When she's not writing poetry or reading she can be found playing tennis, working in theater, playing her flute, or dancing to Yoruba music. Her goals for the upcoming year are to become fluent in French and Wolof/Pulaar, and connect with the Senegalese people and culture.