Although I thoroughly enjoyed every single event, lecture, and topic discussed during the past couple of days, the speaker that touched me the most was Jiesselinde Gonzales.  Her passion and heart radiated throughout the entire audience which truly inspired me to embrace myself and all the qualities I have to bring to the table as well as my sisters in change and all the wonderful qualities they bring to the table.  She showed me that the first step in becoming the most effective leader possible is to know yourself and be confident in who you are, then you will be capable of lifting other people up.

Every person is unique; we all have qualities and characteristics that set us apart from one another.  We all have strengths, we all have weaknesses.  We all have goals and dreams.  We all have a passion for something wonderful in life.  Also, we all have something in common.  For us, this group of change agents, our common interest is that we all hope to someday see an improved world which empowers women in all aspects of our societies, both globally and locally.  We have come together with a common idea in mind; an idea that we can be the young women who spark a change.  We can spark a change in our communities, which will eventually grow into something bigger in which women in all of our communities are empowered, inspired, and ready to take a stand.

The very first activity the class participated in was defining three characteristics about ourselves that are strong and make us exceptional leaders and introduce ourselves to our classmates.  Many wonderful qualities were brought up such as “compassionate”, “ambitious”, “good listener”, “empathetic”, etc.  Together as a group, with all of our outstanding qualities combined, we became the “perfect leader”.  This ties into Mrs. Gonzales’ discussion in the fact that each of us individually holds special qualities that, when united together, create a pretty powerful support system.  None of us are the perfect person, but together we are unstoppable.  That’s why it’s so important to know yourself; know what you excel at and what you struggle with, know what qualities can truly contribute to your overall goal and success.

The final section of the activity we participated in with Paola Gomez was one that was quite riveting for me personally.  All of the women were told to place both hands on a circular rope and pull back, creating a sturdy and steady hold.  One person was then asked to remove one hand from the rope.  When this task was completed, the rope became extremely unbalanced.  Paola then explained that when even one hand is lifted from the rope, the balance becomes skewed, people begin to fall backward and the hold becomes unsteady.  This is much like the way a support group works.  When one member falls, so does the rest of the group.  Each individual’s qualities come together to create a powerful movement towards the achievement of a need or goal.

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Above:  Maasai women united in craft for a better future.

It’s important that we know ourselves so that we can then move forward confidently in the direction of a change.  We need to have the ability to remain courageous, united, and strong when the road becomes rough, and the only way to do this is to be so firm and confident in yourself that you refuse to falter.  Jeisselinde Gonzales, Paola Gomez and every activity, event, and speaker that we have seen so far have shown me the importance of this.  As women, we should not only know ourselves, but embrace ourselves, and together we can create a movement that is unstoppable.

Below is a link to a book entitled “Moonrise” about women’s leadership.

http://store.bioneers.org/Moonrise_p/book-moonrise.htm

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