15 On Becoming a Leader

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Fellows Hina Ali and Ivana Braga take the high ground during a hike. Photo Credit: Derya Kaya

Apart from academic study, professional enrichment, community service and American cultural immersion experiences, a key element of the Humphrey Fellowship is leadership development. For many it was a transformational journey of discovery. Many were able to identify that they were already strong leaders in their own right, starting with their success in qualifying for this special program. During the year they learned more about leadership, time management and other key skill sets. They also shaped and aligned their plans to ensure a successful transition from current fellow to alum.

As the time to go back home draws closer, they consider uncertainties and fears including dealing with reverse culture shock, acknowledging how much they have evolved and the process of readjusting to their professional lives in their home countries. But they really have nothing to fear. They are well prepared to embrace the future as emerging leaders.

Reflection Question: Share one key takeaway about your fellowship year that will make a positive difference on your return home.

My year as a Humphrey fellow helped me to better understand America and embrace our cross-cultural differences. Living with fellows coming from different and diverse cultures is valuable experience I did not have an opportunity to undertake before. It made me more flexible, adaptable and tolerant. I will always be grateful for that. I believe that a good leader should possess those qualities. Maja Cakarun

Listen more to others. Fernando Aguilar

The power of thank you. Steven Kapoloma

Reflection Question: How did your Humphrey year shape you as an emerging leader?

I learned much more about myself than I learned about leadership and my profession on my Humphrey year. I also learned so much about different countries and cultures. I believe my experience gave me a whole different vision that I would never have been able to get if I did not take the Humphrey year challenge. Derya Kaya

I become more aware of myself – strengths and weaknesses. Steven Kapoloma

It allowed me to learn that there is always a solution to a roadblock. The trick is to maintain poise and confidence, stay honest with people, be a friend and a guide, and show evidence of skills and clarity in your communication, decisions and actions. I also improved my understanding of difference, allowing me to see things through other lenses and to have more honed and balanced views. Issa Napon

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