I wanted to become an AIF Clinton Fellow for two reasons:
Reason #1: Because it was the most challenging option that life presented to me, & I believe that optimum growth arises from the most challenging of circumstances.
Reason #2: Because I want to serve. I have been doing everything in the world to advance my personal interests in the past eight years throughout high school & college. Every year is spent getting to the next level ( i.e. get the best SAT score so you can get into the best college so you can land the best job so you can…) I want to devote myself completely to a community & share my gifts & skill set in a way that can advance some other individual or community, & AIF is the best opportunity for me to attain this goal at this point in my life.
My goals for this fellowship (in no particular order) are as follows:
Cultural Competency. I want to become culturally competent in the context of India. Learning Hindi is my top goal in this effort. I believe it is important to be able to talk to folks in their own language while in their country. I want to be able to speak to the kids I work with in the slum communities & exchange with them, uninhibited by linguistic barriers.
Navigating the Difference. I want to learn to connect with people in a profound way, despite outside differences. I believe this goal has the most potential for growth. I never successfully mastered this as a Black woman living in China, & never had to deal with it in Africa or Latin America. The default that many advice givers have offered is to simply rely on my blue American passport or my Stanford degree to connect with people & “get things done.” But I want the connections I have with the community to be more meaningful than that. They should rise above superficialities & differences & go deep below the surface to the heart of true, human connection.
Artistic Development. I want to inspire & to be inspired by the community that I will become immersed in, & allow myself to grow artistically. As an artist, I find India an opportunity for tremendous artistic growth. From traditional miniature paintings, to the works of Jamini Roy & the likes of the Carnatic & Hindustani music traditions, there is certainly much I have to learn from India. & much to give as well.
Personal & Professional Growth. I am thrilled, humbled, nervous, & excited about this passage to India. I know that this fellowship will be personally & professionally challenging for me, & it will cause me to become a stronger individual. I am determined to grow, & I hope that as a result of the challenges I will face during my AIF Clinton fellowship, my confidence & resiliency will blossom. The skills I cultivate during the tenure of my fellowship will help me throughout the rest of my life.
Ultimately, I hope to build a life as part of community & engage in meaningful work that inspires & makes a difference.