From: Nancy Curtis (Junior Leader, Spring Immersion 2017)
Reported on April 14, 2017, day 7 of the Spring ’17 Immersion
Returning to Guatemala, I thought I knew exactly what to expect. When I arrived I was met by one of the hardest, most rewarding experiences of my life thus far. When I came to Guatemala as a participant in Spring of 2016, the hardest part every day was going to sleep because I was too excited for the next day. I was comfortable, engaged, and felt like the two weeks passed in the blink of an eye. I met new people, immersed myself in a culture nothing like my own, and learned more about myself than I ever thought I could. Now, exactly a year later, my immersion has been magnified tenfold. Every day, living in this culture that is still foreign to me, but I have grown to love, I find myself pushed like never before to mess up, learn, and grow. These three actions, which define my day to day life, have become my closest companions and greatest nemeses.
Working with the coffee harvesting team every day, I find myself stepping up to lead in ways I didn’t consider before. I have taught myself, or rather been taught by this immersion, that you can lead from 5 steps back. And that the greatest leaders empower rather than direct. Through working with Leaders of the Day ( first-year participants each lead their team for a day) I have grown my delegation skills while watching the leadership skills of the youth around me thrive. Not only does this help the confidence in leading of these youth, it also teaches them that they hold power among their peers. Although here that manifests as making bringing the team together (in GV Huddles!) for group discussions or leading the celebration of our days work, their growth is directly translated into their lives in Seattle.
I now find myself in a unique position, one that makes me proud and uncomfortable at the same time. As the skills of the participants develop, they are stepping up to lead and their need to be taught and directed is changes. Although I know there will never be a morning when I don’t wake up and make a list of everything that I need to remember to do for the day, I’m gradually seeing the list shrink as my confidence in these students grows and I am comforted when I see their names appear next to each responsibility. I’m beyond proud in the leadership I see in this group of participants; the same leadership I felt emerge last year. Although we are only halfway through our time here and there are still a million more lessons coming, this immersion has allowed me to grow, thrive, and better myself as a leader and a person. I know that a week from today, when I wake up in my bed in Seattle, I will miss everything about this immersion: the people, the sun, the work, the food, and perhaps most of all, the challenges every day provides and the lessons I learn from each challenge.