Becoming a Raindrop

Rhonda Jaipaul-O’Garro

on behalf of the 2013-14 ASU Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows

8f55add7d39401eefb8edf9276e39778-200x300If you asked my Brazilian colleague Ivana Braga about her competence in English as her second language, I am pretty sure in her characteristic modesty, she would say that she is not very good.

It is therefore all the more awe-inspiring to me that during our orientation and introductions back in August last year, Ivana would so eloquently and profoundly articulate the underlying personal mission that we all shared about being agents of change – becoming a raindrop.

The entire cohort quickly gravitated to this concept of being raindrops creating ripples of change. It infused our retreat discussions where we formulated our vision and mission for the Humphrey year. As expected, it also shaped our Legacy Project, designed to document our phenomenal fellowship journey at Arizona State University over the last year.

It has undoubtedly been a long journey, come full circle and creating undulating waves likened to the ripples on the water’s surface along the way. The difference though is that our changes permeate way below the surface.

Last year at this time, we were reveling in the news of our selection for this prestigious Fulbright fellowship award. Excitement comingled with uncertainty as we began a journey of discovery, testing and developing our leadership potential. Leaving familiar comforts, we boldly stepped into new territory, propelled only by the collective dream and hope to nudge ourselves to be better, to be catalysts of positive change.

I reflect on the remarks by John Sedlin, the Department of State’s chief of the Humphrey Fellowships and Institutional Linkages Branch, at our welcome dinner at the Global Leadership Forum in Washington D.C. He said, “As you think about the goals you hope to achieve this year, I would offer this observation from the American-born poet T.S. Eliot – ‘Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.’”

With commitment, we steered through an exhilarating and sometimes exhausting voyage. Now here we are on the water’s edge, peering into new reflections of ourselves shaped from a collage of experiences, daring risks and diligent work.

As we prepare to turn our ships around and face new horizons ahead, we channel the indomitable spirit of Hubert H. Humphrey, his passion for life, fight for change, democracy, relationship building and mutual understanding the world over. It is a special honor to be the cohort of this auspicious year that marks the 35th anniversary of the Humphrey Fellowship program. We pay homage to the great exemplars of leadership – Hubert Humphrey himself and the many Humphrey alumni who have gone before us.

This e-book is an especially appropriate legacy piece, given the immense interest in digital communication shared among this group of Humphrey fellows. The publication is compilation of our fellowship encounters, presented in an easy-to-read question and answer format. A distinctive twist from any previous project is that it is not restricted to this fellowship cohort’s insights but also includes reflections from Humphrey alumni as well as Barrett, The Honors College students who worked alongside the fellows in the Humphrey Seminar. It presents reflections on our personal and professional experiences that we hope will serve to give insight and guidance to future fellows.

More significantly, it marks our preparation to summon the rains that create ripples of change.

Enjoy the voyage. And as you read, ponder your own ripple effect.

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