And so the 2 months have come to a close. 8 weeks. 60 days. 1440 hours and many minutes of meeting people, representing our opinions, thoughts, beliefs, institutions, policies, strategies, ideas and the rest of what we carry in our bags. Nobody said it would be easy, however nobody said exactly how difficult it would be either. In a sense, no matter what anyone would have said to describe the Fellowship experience, could not have even begun to do justice to what the 24 of us have gone through.
Is it beneficial? Yes! Was it helpful to our careers? Yes! Was it something that helped us to learn and something that each of us can hope to implement in our own lives and organizations? Yes! Gunvor Kronman has called a board meeting in her company at 9am Monday morning. I have called a staff meeting at 9am on Friday morning (3 hours after I land back home!) I'm sure many others have done similar execution amongst their own groups. So yes - this group of 24 fellows has not only learned, but is exploding to implement. I mean - you really needed to be there in the room when all of us came together - obviously everyone was bursting with ideas, but then we were all speaking the same language - the language of progress and advancement; the language of change and unity. I guess all of us feel the celebration of sharing ideas comparable to a soda bottle that pops open after you shake it. Pop. It's out there. Yes. The fellows have arrived back into the world as we know it, armed with ideas, a solid network and the courage to change the world as we know it.
Whether it is Koby in Israel or Fatin in Saudi Arabia; Kai in China or Yoichi in Japan; Farith in Malaysia or Christian in Romania - Supinya in Thailand or Gregory back in Russia, they will make sure that there are changes. Marcelo will continue to make waves in the Popularisation of Science and Technology in Brazil and David will continue to lead us towards the reunion in Kenya (hopefully he will still be willing to drive us around..)
Olga in the Czech Republic is perhaps the greatest tribute that visually describes the character of this group - we're strong and we are focused. You can talk about whatever you want, Olga will only talk to you about the Czech and the Prague and her dream of building Central Europe's first Entrepreneurship University, and we will only talk to you about fresh ideas that bring people together. Shirlene has certainly already helped to paint all of us with a magical airbrush that brings us to agree that Entrepreneurship IS tough and that we're ALL creative to some extent and will continue to do so all the way from Singapore.
Rafael is another wonderful description of this group - When we saw how versatile and multi-talented Dr Bundoc was after watching him make paperclips disappear before our very eyes, I realized how appropriate Rafael's talent was - we are all magicians in addition to the roles we play by day. Kash can make you laugh at jokes lacking a punchline; Roberto can bring down the house with the infamous Bomba song; Bulent can give you the inside scoop on Hollywood actresses plastiqueness and other sizzling gossip that only doctors in his profession have access to (and of course, lead the Macerena like nobody else); Wafa can sing a song and make you cry (only because it is sad!); Emine can pull people off the sidelines and make them dance. Rizwana can out talk pretty much everyone else who tries to tell her their opinion and then make them believe it was their idea to begin with!
Susie can light up the room with her smile (and I only think that is humanly possible not only because she is such a beautiful person, but also because she is really really really tall!); Ratish can pull the group together and pull a vote out of a bag quicker than anyone else I have seen; and Caroline Casey can organize a party that makes financial and emotional sense to everyone in less than 2 minutes and then make sure each and everyone is a part of the effort (and then push people on the ice and stand back and coax them back up; and then order coffee mochiatolattecaramalatte only because there is no way I can pronounce that!)
And then there's me. I get to watch and learn from all of my friends. I have the almost-impossible role of documenting each memory that is created and make sure we don't forget how far we have come. Of course, nobody said it was easy. There was obviously no way they could have known what the amazingly fluid and potent chemistry of this group was. They call it the Eisenhower Fellowship, but being part of this specific group was a privilege. We met back in May as Fellows. We left each other early this morning as Friends.
More later. What?! There's MORE?! Of course there is. Definitely. The 2-month program has ended, but the real challenges of the Fellowship have just begun and I will continue to write about what all of us continue to strive to achieve.
Nobody said it was easy.