My Voice

Josh Hamilton - Senegal


May 3, 2011

“Silence is freedom’s greatest enemy” so today I stand up for freedom and let my voice be heard despite certain fears inside of judgment or misinterpretation/misunderstanding of what falls from my lips. I am just simply speaking out because my voice counts.

Here in Senegal there are certain restrictions on who decides what and assigned gender roles, but at least in my village I know directly from the mouth of my host father, Michelle Sarr – chief of the village, that everyone has a voice in Point Serene. This past week there was an older man in his 50s accused of sexually abusing a young female. Anyhow when the meeting began to discuss the situation and consider consequences my father noticed that the young girl was absent and demanded her presence. I thought wow, a very bold and unusual choice, but a sign of hope for democracy and an inspiration to me as I am learning to make my own voice heard.

A huge part of my GCY experience is certainly learning to overcome fear and insecurities. I am building up the courage to push myself pass my own psychological limitations to make significant progress. Suddenly I am really beginning to acknowledge the differences between being gifted/having raw talent or a strong passion for something compared to being a professional; having basic knowledge/common sense compared to being educated. This is an experience that I will being trying to sum up and  process for the rest of my life, but for now the biggest and clearest sensation is overcoming my fears and challenging myself to progress in the areas I feel best fit for me to become the well rounded leader I want to be.

When we talk about having a “global perspective” in monthly meetings I always begin to think about self perspective and how hard it can be to see our own progression and potential and the importance of reflecting and sharing with others. Not too long ago a fellow Fellow was sharing a quote from a Nelson Mandela speech with me as I shared some of my challenges and fears with her. “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure…..As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others”….And when I hear that I think of how I felt when I overcame minor challenges like passing a geometry test, or making a decision that friends did not necessarily agree with because it wasn’t “cool “or “the business” and the rewards of those and coming to the conclusion that everyone has the potential inside of them to lead and have a positive significant impact on others in one way or another.

More often than not it is fear of failure that gets in the way of success; another one of those things that just goes hand -in- hand with each other, like reading and writing or teaching and learning. Failure is a part of learning which can teach you/challenge you to dig deeper (ASK YOURSELF WHY FIVE TIMES) and come up with different ways or methods of accomplishing goals to success.

I am just speaking out and it feels good and I feel free – that is what matters most to me.

So whether it is pushing myself to pass a geometry test at a boarding school in Albram, Masschusetts, backpacking in the Sierra mountains in California, or working on an agricultural farm in Senegal, I have embraced my experience without regrets or disappointment. I continue to grow and become the leader I wish to be. Thank you for listening to my voice.

Josh Hamilton