Reflecting on Spatial Thinking

As the Summer draws to a close, I am filled with the nostalgic feelings that accompany returning to school. This summer 5 AidData Summer Fellows traveled to the Philippines and incredible 70 day experience.

Back home, when people ask me about my trip, my one word answer has become: “unexpected”. At the beginning of April the Summer Fellows though we would be in the the Himalayas. The Nepal earthquake sent us to the tropics. I don’t mean to use the word “unexpected” in a bad way. Our time was just filled with a halo-halo (literally mix-mix) of wonderful, frustrating, unimaginable things.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around the incredible experience. What a blessing to be able to go. I am so thankful for this opportunity and William and Mary’s support. I could not have travelled without them.

Here are my top 3 take aways from the Summer.

1. It takes time to find your place

It is difficult to move to a new place. Being a State Department kid, I thought that our launch in the Philippines as Fellows would be relatively quick and easy. Perhaps two or three weeks. Writing about this now, it seems obvious that the transition would not be so fast. It takes times to establish connections, find opportunities and really understand what an organization needs. In this transitional time there are ups and downs. Some days I felt like we had signed up for too much and could not handle everything. Other days, I felt like I was not doing enough and became frustrated by the slow going. In the end though this turned into two great learning experiences. First, that we were following a natural progression of finding our way in a new space. It’s ok to cut yourself a bit of slack. Second, being independent and creating your own opportunities takes dedication, guts and patience. I like the structure and direction of a syllabus. But, it was nice to learn that the world is not like that.

2. The team makes a world of difference

I was incredible lucky to work and live with two William and Mary students: Emily McLenigan and Prabesh Basnet. Our team worked like a well oiled machine. We worked hard, laughed a lot, learned from each other. I’m sad to not be with them everyday.

3. It’s good to be home. 

Finishing this Summer, I could not wait to be back on campus. William and Mary is a wonderful home full of fantastic people and great learning. After this trip, I better understand my weakness in the workforce and feel like the classes I am taking this semester support and strengthening those weaknesses. However, I am not as worried about going into the real world as I was at the beginning of this summer. This trial run as a Fellow has shown me how well William and Mary and AidData have prepared me.  Although I am not ready to give up my final year, I am confident in the time to come!