I’m on the biggest plane I’ve been on in a while. It has three rows, the middle row has four seats, and I had the great luck of ending up there. The flight is from San Francisco to London, and then on to Nairobi. Going off of only local times, I left Tuesday evening and will arrive Thursday morning. Crossing an ocean and a couple continents in between.
When I arrive in the morning I was told I was going to spend the day talking to my employer, discussing work and planning things as well as getting the low down on Kenya. This made me think a little bit about jetlag and the state I will be in when I arrive. I have always had good luck with jetlag, I’m not going to say I dont feel it but I’ve never had it last more than a day or two. On this occasion I was thinking about how to mitigate the effects by planning ahead. Strangely I found a video on the airplanes entertainment system entitled, How to Beat Jet Lag. So I thought I’d give it try. They said to make sure to get two good nights sleep before departure, well I think I did but I’m already on the plane so too late now. The next piece of advice was to prepare yourself by setting your watch to the local time of your destination and begin to plan eating and sleeping around that. I looked at Nairobi time, 8:45 am, set my watch to it and then looked at Pacific Standard Time. 10:45 pm, hmm, this will be interesting. At least I can pretend that the salmon and pasta dinner I was just served is really my breakfast. And maybe the sleep I’m supposed to get tonight can dually serve as my Nairobi time siesta.
So I’m on a plane and off to Kenya. To give a little background I am going to work slowly backward. Seeing as I havent wrote in the blog for nearly a year, I’m not quite sure how far back I will go. I am going to Kenya with the Ambassador Corps Fellowship given by the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of the Pacific. It is a paid internship in a Social Entrepreneurial organization somewhere in the world. This year 9 were given out and I was lucky enough to be the recipient of one, and even luckier to be on my way to Kenya, a place and part of the world I’ve never been before.
Let me again jump back before I go into a little more depth about the Fellowship. There are a couple of things I would like to highlight which happened at the end of the year. I graduated mid May. Finishing a degree in International Relations and Global Studies from the University of the Pacific. The School of International Studies provided me with some amazing classes and learning opportunities as well as wonderful professors and a staff-student relationship that I don’t believe exists at other schools around the US.
One of the amazing opportunities given to me toward the end of the semester was being able to introduce the former President of Mexico from 2000-2006, Vicente Fox. He was being brought by the School of International Studies (SIS) for the Gerber Lecture and would be staying to deliver the commencement speech at graduation the following day. The Dean of SIS wanted a student with strong Spanish skills to introduce the President. What I later found out was that as she asked around and my name came up, she was surprised because I had studied abroad in the Middle East and she had thought about me and Arabic but not Spanish. That’s SIS for you! I came in as the kid that had lived in Argentina and drank way to much Mate (Argentinian Tea) and left as the kid who lived in the Middle East and had the really cool hookah (sheesha).
In the end I served as a type of MC for the event, welcoming everyone to the Lecture and to Stockton (the building was full!) as well as introducing the President of Pacific who then went on to introduce President Fox (he was a little too high profile to have a student introducing him). I then helped choose the questions for Q & A and had a very fun time asking the President the questions from the audience.
Another event that was very meaningful was that during the last meeting of the Council of University Social Entrepreneurs, I set up a number of new awards recognizing students that represented qualities highlighted by past presidents of the Council. I was excited by awards and the connections between past and current Council members that it would make and was surprised to hear my name when the award given out by the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship was announced. The Social Entrepreneur of the Year award was an honor to receive and one that honestly caught me by surprise. I have had a great year working as President of the Council and have learned so many things from Jerry and Spencer and many others through the Center. Everything I did was to give more student access to the amazing opportunities I had had access to or to create new ones I knew existed. The Council also was honored with the Faith-Davies University wide Student Organization of the Year Award, an important and significant award for the Council to win, a testament to the work put in by all the students as well as the staff at the Global Center, Jerry, Spencer and Sophia.
So to continue with the bombardment of surprises that came at the end of the Semester I want to mention one more, and if possible this one may have come as the biggest surprise. At the same time I was informed that the group I was president of had won the Student Organization of the Year award, I was also informed that I had won the University of the Pacific’s Outstanding Student Leader of the Year award, this had’t happened in years and it was amazing to have it happen to me. Winning this award also meant that during the Commencement Ceremony there would another award ceremony. So in front of a basketball stadium full of people I stood looking extremely embarrassed and making awkward facial expressions as they talked about the award and why I had received it, my face on the jumbo screen really just exacerbated the situation. It was an awesome experience though, I could not have asked for a better mothers day gift that to have my mom see me up there 🙂 I also got a shout out by Vicente Fox as he spoke about leadership during his commencement speech. It was a ridiculous last couple weeks, me fully swamped by work with the Council, IDG and school, I really didnt give myself time to reflect on the fact that I was graduating. But that seems to be how I work, I am currently on a plane to Kenya (actually London then Nairobi) and I don’t think I have fully realized it. Don’t get me wrong, I have done all the preparation and know exactly where I am going, what to expect, and also that I have a lot to learn, I think I just put off thinking about how ridiculous the things I do are. But hey, take a risk, right?