My Commitment

Lily Shaffer - Ecuador


September 20, 2010

What a whirlwind these past five days have been! Once we arrived at IONS last Wednesday, we were immediately put into action meeting each other, attending workshops, and working on personal and leadership development.  I realized from the very first night what I had not come to realize before we arrived here: there is a great deal of responsibility being placed on us.  We are all carrying a huge responsibility to be ambassadors.  We have expectations to live up to—from GCY, from our parents, families, friends, host families, apprenticeships. But most of all, we have self-expectations and a responsibility to live up to our own goals.

On Friday we did a workshop with Abby where we focused on identity and personal goal setting.  The idea that we are both our worst enemies and best friends has never held truer.  The previous night, my mind was teaming with thoughts that could be divided into two categories: self-doubt and self-encouragement. 

What if I don’t get along with my family? What if I can’t pick up the language? What if I miss my family and friends?  What if I change and come home and my friends don’t like who I am? I will change. I will change in a positive way.  I will like the food, maybe even the guinea pig.   I will have a second family in another country.  This will be challenging, but I have the tools to overcome those challenges.

 After a restless first night passed by listening to coyotes howling very close to my window, I went to yoga with Abby and she focused on—surprise!—self-awareness and grounding ourselves as we kick off the year.  At the end of the day, our final workshop focused on making a promise to ourselves over the next year with an “I commit to…”  Several stuck with me:

“I commit to seize every day.”

“I commit to learning to appreciate and love myself.”

“I commit to being scared, uncomfortable, and insecure, and being completely okay with it.”

And as I looked at the bright eyed group and listened to the commitments we were making, I realized we each have what we need inside us to handle this daunting responsibility.  And my commitment?  I commit to inspire myself, inspire others, and allow myself to be inspired.

And so this journey begins…

Lily Shaffer