IT’S A NEW DAWN!

The pandemic came with lock down, shattered dreams, goals, and visions. At the beginning, I had no hint of what would happen next, or even how I would plan for the rest of the days. I kept getting restless as the number of infections kept rising. I embraced being still and walking into new paths and being available for opportunities.

While being still, I received an email from the from Emerging Leaders Foundation on African Biblical Leadership Institute (ABLI), a program I had applied for, informing me that I had qualified for the 2020 cohort. I got excited on hearing the news, I celebrated in song and dance as I waited for the training to commence.

Come June, the training was finally launched. I got so excited to see fellow participants logging in from across the country. The music at the waiting room was calming, I knew I had found a new home. As participants kept logging in, my heart leapt with joy on seeing Caren Wakoli. How I felt like reaching out to hug her, but sadly because of the pandemic the meeting was online. It was very great having her speak to us, because she is a lady I admire, and I look forward to meeting her. She warmly welcomed us and encouraged us to always be outstanding. She told us to always endeavor to bring out our ‘A’ game on the table and we should never hold back.

I have since learnt that most people make decisions based on their emotions. During this period, I have taken time to settle and understand myself. I endeavor to be renewing my mind daily, fixing my eyes on positive results and not getting overwhelmed with stress. I started buying books on leadership and self-awareness, to enable me learn from people’s perspectives and experiences.

The journey that I took is about learning, unlearning, and re-learning as well. As an aspiring leader, I am learning to lead from behind just as Nelson Mandela said “A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, where upon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being distracted from behind.” Leading from behind means being a servant leader, taking care of the people’s needs first before your own. I am on course to becoming a servant leader.

In this journey that I took, I have embraced the power of having a vision, not just having it but learning to implement it step by step. ABLI has led me to understand that you become successful if you implement your vision. This is because visions keep us going. Having a stronger vision makes one not to easily give up.

It is a journey of learning in depth the habits of highly effective leaders. By this, I am working daily on conquering myself and my fears and sharpening the axe. This way, I can be able to conquer the world. I am practicing being decisive and balancing my life. This is to keep me away from having a successful business and a terrible family at the same time.

Being an ABLI fellow is a journey I took on my way to leadership.  I believe with God on my side, I am making it. It is indeed the rise of a New Dawn.

 

By: Catherine Khayali, ABLI 2020

Mentor of the Week: Everton Lukorito

Everton is a banker with over 10 years’ experience. He has been a mentor at ELF for 15 months in the entrepreneurship space.

His mentorship experience has been a great one as he has always found joy working and sharing insights with the younger generation who he believes have much potential if well coached. “The journey has been insightful and mind blowing. The sheer fact that someone looks up to you and tasks you to be the best so that you can create the best out of him/her is fulfilling.”

“Our current generation is on a different platform and if we sit and watch, we will have a case to answer to the ancestors. You know that proverbial question ‘When did the rains start beating you?’ I better play my role by mentoring and not wait for the moment to answer the questions.”

His greatest moments have always been when creating ice-breaking moments with his mentees as he gets to create connections with mentees and understand on their needs and goals.

Everton believes good mentorship is about getting your mentee to fulfill their potential and letting them see what they hold in them. “It is mining the Gold out of the mentee who thought they have Coal. It entails hand holding and opening the mind to a new sphere step by step.”

His advice to new mentors, “We must realize that behind the scene we have young people who wish to walk your path, and joining the mentorship journey will not only create a better people but a people who will make mentorship take a different perspective in the world.”

His favourite quote ‘All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts’ by William Shakespeare.

“Looking back, joining ELF was the wisest decision that I have made in life”

Gladys Maina was not always going to be a STEM professional. She had initially pursued a medical laboratory certificate but realized rather quickly that a career in medicine was not meant for her. She quit and travelled 250Kms to Nairobi where her passion for technology started.

She never looked back and has gone ahead to excel in her career and studies. She recognizes the role technology continues to play in transforming lives and societies. Despite Kenya being a resource-constrained developing country, she believes that it offers her the opportunity to use technology to solve social-economic issues. It is for this reason that Gladys continues to seek international experiences that guide her in achieving these goals. In November 2019, she was named a 2020 finalist of the Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship in line with Adobe vision of creating the best products by bringing gender diversity into the technology industry. In 2018, she was one of the four finalists and the only Kenyan nominated in the category of IT Project Management for the 2018 Afrika Kommt! Initiative.

Gladys attributes her continuous success to the training she got at Emerging Leaders Foundation, an organization she came across as she was casually browsing the Internet. ELF helped her rediscover who she really was and her capabilities. She learnt how to align her passions with a successful living. As an aspiring leader, the session on leadership gave her lessons that she carries with her to date. She was taught that leaders have clarity, leaders take care of the company they keep, and leaders give back to the community.

It is for this reason that Gladys has continued to champion for gender diversity and inclusion in the STEM field. In June 2020, she was selected for the 2020-2021 TechWomen program from an incredibly competitive cycle with only 108 women selected to participate. TechWomen brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program in the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, DC.

ELF taught her three crucial lessons which she has carries and shares with those around her:

  1. Never settle for less.

You should keep pursuing your goals and increasing your knowledge no matter what position or title you hold in life.

Steve Jobs said that we should never settle and we should never arrive.

  1. Be brave and take risks.

“We need to be brave and take risks to achieve our ambitions. We need to lose sight of the shores to discover new oceans. Taking risks means hurdling into the unknown and believing that we will make it to the other side, despite not yet knowing what the other side is going to look like. It is taking bold actions and forcing ourselves into unfamiliar territories.”

  1. Run your own race

“Sometimes we are tempted to look at others and compare ourselves. We evaluate ourselves by how much our colleagues, teammates, friends, and family members have accomplished forgetting that they are their own unique individual. One thing ELF taught me is that it does not matter when you start the race, what matters is that you eventually finish. Learn as much as you can as there is room at the finish line for all of us.”

Gladys hopes to continue inspiring the next generation of leaders. She believes that she stands on the sacrifices of a million women before her and is always thinking what she can do to make the mountain taller so the women after her can go even further.

“Looking back, joining ELF was the wisest decision that I have made in life.”

 

 

By: Gladys Maina, LDP Cohort 5

 

My Transformation Through ABLI

When I joined ABLI I had my expectations. I wanted to grow spiritually and build a strong network of believers across the country. It has been three months since we started the program and truly I can attest the program has exceeded my expectations. I love the partnership between Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF) and the Bible Society of Kenya (BSK) with the aim of targeting young Christians who need leadership and mentorship training. It is hard to come by such programs that are Christian based.

Our weekly classes are top-notch! The organizers spend quality time coming up with the right content and topics that are relevant in the modern world. There are things that you will rarely learn in higher institutions of learning or even understand how important they are, but through ABLI, I have been able to understand and learn on so many aspects when it comes to leadership and professionalism; Leading with Emotional intelligence, using storytelling skills as a mode to influence people, spending time to write a letter to self and many more exciting topics. At this point, I feel empowered, it is hard to imagine that we are halfway into the program.

I am grateful that I got a chance to be a part of this cohort and I would like to thank the organizers for doing a commendable job. I am also thankful for being able to put into practice all the skills gained in this program at my current workplace. My start-up CBO, Graceway Foundation Africa, has also benefited a great deal and it has experiences a great change in its management, owing to my lessons from ABLI. If there is anyone out there who is looking to improve on their leadership style or you are wondering where to start from, ABLI is here for you!

I am reminded of one topic “Letter to self”. It has changed my perspective and helped me see things differently. I have been holding lots of painful past experiences that I could not bear to share with anyone around because of the memories behind them. The speaker of this session was very engaging, her soothing voice created a comfortable environment for us to speak out. This was the same day when I shared a story that I have never attempted to pass on to anyone, this has since left me with lightness and relief in my heart.

This year has not been an easy one but ABLI has made everything work out. Thank you, Emerging Leaders Foundation and Bible Society of Kenya, for giving me and other fellows hope, courage, strength and power when we were about to give up.

 

By: Emmanuel Opar Osano, ABLI 2020

 

 

Two packets of Biscuits; the lifeline!

I will tell the story of a teen girl who was told that she was not enough. She is an average girl in most aspects; neither tall nor short, slim- but not too slim 😊 and her heart might not be big enough to accommodate everyone and everything that the world throws at her. She is just a girl who was never enough for anything. All she ever went through her teenage life was questions on her thoughts, on God’s timing- was it really the best, slight sense of humour and sarcasm, and just how boring and dull life could be.

She grew sorry and confused. She was sorry for breathing fresh air in a space she should have called home and sorry for taking up space that probably would have been meaningful to someone else. She grew tired of how meaningless life had become, she decided the only way out was taking her own life, but just before she did, she decided to talk to her brother about it.

Siz, mind telling me why you are tired?”

“I am just tired”

“Do you know the lord’s prayer” (stupid question, she thought)

“Who doesn’t and just where has God been the entire time?”

“Okay just say it, sleep and I will call you at tomorrow at 6 am”

She never said amen to that prayer. She must have snoozed off like Adam did before his rib was taken. When she woke up, my suicidal plan was off, it had just failed. This was a reminder that God had not taken his time giving her life just to watch her take it unjustly.  When she woke up, her journey to dealing with pain begun, thanks to her brother who offered a leaning shoulder.

If her memory serves her right, those are the exact details of that story. By not closing her chapter, she started taking in lessons. Lesson 1; the strength of a woman is known through her grace to dance even when chaos show up at her doorstep. Later, she set out to join the male-dominated IT field where she recently started an initiative set out to advocate for safe and thoughtful cyber practices. It was around the same period that I came across an ELF ad of the next intake. She never knew of ELF’s existence, but she decided to give it a chance. To date, she has no regrets.

At ELF, she was welcomed with warm smiles, given affirming words by the team that she met and given two packets of biscuits as headed home. At that point she knew this journey, the people in it and everything about it was sacred. True to her expectations, the journey has been amazing.

The greatest lesson from ELF was that sometimes people tend to take away what we hold dearly, we may hit rock bottom in life, but it is such moments that help us realize on what’s important in life.

Since her graduation from ELF, she has refined a few things at in her CyberMakini initiative and she is about to launch the first program that will educate and create awareness to people on cyber offences and crimes.

In July this year, which happens to be her birthday month, she kept thinking to herself what she could do to meaningfully influence her small community of young people that hasn’t grown weary of trying, amidst the pandemic and poor governance in the country. After juggling various ideas, she settled on telling stories of the Millennial generation. Having experienced the cruelty and negative vibes that exist around the generation, she felt it was time to put out stories and clarify on various issues. The program dubbed #31Days31Millennials was to consistently share stories of their works, roles in impacting the society and building enterprises, and passions of different millennials for the 31 days of July. The feedback was amazing at first, this pushed her into doing more and further extending the program. To this end, the program runs every Sunday and Wednesday of the week.

The stories are mind blowing and inspiring. Most of the millennials who have been featured on the platform have been met with unkind words, discouragements, and ridicule. Despite this, they have persistently challenged the status quo and are trying their best to shake things up and stand up to be counted as heroes in this century. All she wants is to tell stories, stories that will change perspectives, stories that will encourage and motivate a generation, stories that will brighten up days and influence change.

You may be wondering, who is she. I am Ann Mercy Wairimu and I am more than enough.

For the longest time, I have tried to run away from my assignments and callings in life, but I have always found myself gravitating towards my purpose. I have always felt a fire in me, a fire that will not stop burning, one that continually defines my current self. But I have not made use of it previously.

Today, I am all grown, I am committed to my destiny and I am working towards fulfilling my purpose in life. I still recall the two packets of biscuits that I got during my ELF interview, this always acts as a reminder that I have a home, a safe place, a heaven for young people with brilliant ideas and burning desires.

In life, blessings come in many forms, mine came through ELF, I found myself, I am alive, I am playing a role, one that I hope will have impact.

By: AnnMercy Wairimu, ELF Cohort 7

Deogracious Maero: Mentoring is an opportune time to learn more about yourself

Maero M.O. Deogracious is a Medical Doctor currently pursuing Master of Medicine Program in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi University. Throughout his carrier as a medical doctor, he has been actively involved with women and girls’ issues. He was involved in the push and initiation of a program that aimed to reduce and offer services to victims of gender-based violence. The program with support of a non-governmental organization involved health professionals at the facility level and community point men and women at the community level. He has also started a cervical cancer screening, treatment and referral centre, whose main objective is early diagnosis of  pre-cancerous stage disease and early intervention to prevent full-blown development of the pre-cancerous state to cancer. He has also initiated a recreation and rehabilitation centre for the youth.

As a medical resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology, he has continued his involvement and passion in women and girls’ issues by volunteering counselling services in the gender-based violence program across the city. He is also seeking to influence policy on abortion by undertaking a research that intends to evaluate the illegal abortion complication, severity, and associated factors. This interest has been greatly influenced by the experiences of the harm he has seen illegal abortions have on girls and the community at large.

Currently, he is the chairman for Doctors Union, Nairobi City County Chapter, where he spends his time fighting for doctors’ rights and advocating for better health services to the Nairobi residents.

Deogracious believes that good mentorship is putting one-self in the same capacity as the mentees at that point in life; reflecting and asking yourself questions that relate to the situation. ‘What would I want to be told at this point in life? What supporting structures would I want and more importantly what did I not need then.’

“It is a vivid reflection of your past to the future. Your ups and downs, strengths and weakness, victories, and failures. It is also an opportune time to learn more about yourself from yourself and from your mentees. Mentorship involves also looking into the present. It is one of those things that if your heart is in it, go for it,” he adds.

His greatest moments in mentorship have are when his mentees keep coming back to him for more support and knowledge. “Close contact and keeping in touch warms my heart. It means you are having an impact. My worst is when we lose touch with my mentee.”

“My drive for mentorship is in-borne. It is that small flame that never stops burning. The spirit in me that always wants to contribute towards change.  I aspire to be an advocate for gender, women and girls’ issues which include reproductive health and rights, gender equality, early child marriages and teen pregnancies, access to education and employment, intimate partner violence and access to water and sanitation. In the long-term, I want to be a witness of the steps being made towards achieving progress in women and girl’s health and health unrelated issues.”

His favorite quote, ‘Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent – Martin Luther King, Jr.’

I never thought I needed training, until I joined ABLI

Happiness is an episode life. Running on caffeine and three hours of sleep, my morning was bad. I had to catch a train otherwise, I would run late. As I sat in the train, I decided to check my overwhelmingly full mail. I scrolled through looking for any important ones and then sort the rest later. One caught my attention, my dad had sent me an email, it was a rare occurrence. The subject head read: invitation to a training. It never took my attention as such, I ended up locking my phone as I needed to catch up on my sleep.

Each day presents a new experience. I am always looking forward to learning more.

As I left class, I checked my emails once again with the intention of getting to understand more of the ‘training’. The program was being conducted by Emerging Leaders Foundations (ELF), an organization I had not heard of before. Like any curious being, I did a quick nosedive and checked their website to learn more about what they do. I was not doing anything else apart from French classes and so I thought, ‘Why not apply’.

One thing led to another and soon after, I got a call one evening for an interview, an impromptu interview, which I was not ready for but nonetheless, I went through with it. At the moment, I was sure that I wasn’t getting a slot in the program. Voila! I got an email confirming that I had made the cut into the program. I could say it was God’s Grace. I have been in trainings before and thought this one would be as the previous ones; long boring lectures, no discussions and team building. I have to admit I am not a people person, I love being part a passive member.

The first day I was not so sure. I logged in, the music was nice and I thought just a few more minutes. Sure enough I ended up listening to the whole session. I then thought to myself, may be it is day one. With time I have come to see it was not just the first day.  Each day presents a new experience.  I am always looking forward to learning more and filling my puny brain with ideas and knowledge. I have never considered leadership, but this training has motivated me to finish reading a book on leadership. I thought I would pick up in-depth learning once I started my post-graduate studies. ELF has really made an impact in my life. I am learning to contribute to the sessions, human interaction is not bad after all. Outgrowing my comfort space has made me explore new opportunities. I only told stories anonymously, now I can put my name out there to accompany my pieces. ABLI has really shed light on my life, I have learnt a lot. I can confidently say that it is shaping the person I am becoming.

I appreciate ELF and BSK for affording me this opportunity. Each new day I am finding myself looking at things in a different perspective, am learning, adopting, and dropping old habits. Training virtually can be hectic, you guys have beat the odds. I am happy to be in this program at such a time.

 

By Zipporah Mwangi-ABLI 2020

NEVER DESPISE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

I left my previous job back in 2015 because I felt like I was struggling in it. Like any other young and ambitious person, I was pretty sure beyond a doubt that I would secure yet another opportunity of choice in the soonest time possible. Turns out I was wrong! Three years went by and nothing came forth, even after making numerous applications. Out of the hundreds of applications I made, only less than five invited me for an interview and the results, negative. The quest for a job drained me and I became so desperate that at that time, I was willing to do anything to survive. I regretted my decision to quit.

It is not wrong to be ambitious; but in your ambitions, be humble.

My world was falling apart; life was getting tough each and every day; the struggle was too much and almost crushing, that I lost my sense of self. I significantly lost confidence and self-esteem and this made me shy away from people close to me. I was not the same person. I couldn’t face anyone or anything anymore. I felt like my life was doomed. At this point I thought of going back to the village (home) than to stay and languish in the city. I was convinced beyond a doubt that the city life was not for me. I fixed dates to travel to the village but as the day drew closer, I kept on shifting it, over and over again. My heart couldn’t let me leave the city. Looking back, I realize that God was preparing me for a breakthrough.

One evening while pondering on my next move, it hit me that I needed to find a ‘small job’ that would help me fend for myself. Out of all the job hunts I did; I attached my certificates and put my best foot forward but that didn’t work. I re-thought my strategy. This time, I opted to try using my driver’s license as a brokering bridge for a job. I looked around and saw an opportunity in the taxi industry. After availing all the necessary documents at small fee, it did not take long before I secured a job as a driver. The job was not easy at the beginning though, but it being the only job available, I had to do it to my very best and passionately. I thought to myself, ‘Is God giving me a chance to reinvent myself?’ I gave the job my all and served all my clients in the most professional way. In my trips, I got to meet different kind of people and every time we interacted, a fresh energy rejuvenated my spirit bringing me confidence and hope yet again. At this juncture, more questions than answers filled me. I began having dissenting opinions on everything I believed was impossible. My eyes finally opened I started looking at things differently. A new ray of light started to shine my way.

Executing my taxi work, was the most fascinating thing for me, it gave me a chance to meet new friends to whom I learnt a lot from. It is during this period that I learnt about ELF and the good work they were doing to inspire and give hope to young people like me. Initially, I joined ELF as a service provider of the taxi service to the staff. In the course of the service and during our numerous conversations on the journey to various destinations, I got an opportunity to learn more about the mentorship program, this created an interest in me to be part of the program. Later, I joined The ABLI mentorship program offered by the Bible Society of Kenya in collaboration with ELF. The training was so amazing that it changed everything for me. It is through the program that I discovered who I really was, and what I could do. I discovered my strengths and weakness and learnt to align them for a successful living.

After graduating from the program in August 2018, I maintained contact with ELF and every time an opportunity arose, they could always call me for my services. Around February 2019, a senior ELF staff called me and asked whether I was willing to take up a job, as an assistant to one of her friends.I looked at the requirements for the job and saw that I was qualified. So I made the decision to take the offer. The job entailed driving kids to school and later the mzee to work. In addition, I acted as an office messenger and secretary at my boss’s office. To most graduates, this wouldn’t be a job they run to take. But my mentor encouraged me to take it and give it my all.

I gave it my best shot in every way – I kept time, I was disciplined, I was honest, I delivered within the required deadlines and learnt very fast in the job. One thing led to another, and within no time, on Dec 4th, 2019, I was introduced to British Engineering Services (BES) Group as a project support officer. Currently am a supervisor at the same company working in nine counties.

In a nutshell, my journey has been a good one. I am not yet done; I am just hitting the midway mark. On my way to this point, I have encountered challenges that have enabled me to learn lessons and be strong.

One key lesson I wish to give young people is this –  it is not wrong to be ambitious; but in your ambitions, be humble. Utilize small opportunities that come your way and ensure that you play a great role in preparing yourself for the future. When you keep the focus, you will get to your dream destination.

Never ever despise a humble beginnings.  Everything happens for a reason. When I left my job, it sounded crazy, but had I not taken that step of faith, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am now. I kick-started my journey as a driver and now I am a Supervisor at an international company. What if I had turned down the offer?

 

By Elijah Kipkurui- ABLI 2018

This is our decade, Let us fight for our space.

The international youth week is over. But how far do we go into keeping promises made, activating the great phrases and powerful quotes that we came across in the looong speeches that we had in the last week?

The past few months have seen a lot of support by the government to the Kenyan youth in promoting their sustainability. From kazi mtaani, to buying hospital beds from two young innovators in Kiambu county, the government has shown efforts in trying to support young people and their innovations. Commendable, but there is a long way to go on this.

This is the time to have more youth come out and get more engaged.

Anyway, that is not my purpose here.

Today, I celebrate individuals and organizations that are helping nurture young men and women with immense potential and promising to be champions of change from the grassroots to the international levels; everyone spending sleepless nights as they think of strategies and ways in which they can equip more young men and women with knowledge and help them unleash their inner-selves in ensuring that the nation and continent at large is rising from its shadow with more involvement from the youth. The Caren Wakoli’s of this world who have started organizations that are equipping young men and women with knowledge, skills and offered mentorship programs which have in turn pushed a good number out of their comfort zones and are now actively engaging their communities, governments and their peers in ensuring that there is positive progress in the tiniest of spaces. Owing to such organizations, there are more people actively engaging politicians, civil societies, and their communities fearlessly and achieving their plans.

This year’s celebration marked 20 years since the UN designated 12th August as the international youth day. This was also the first celebration of this new decade, a decade that started off promising greatness before the world was paralyzed by a pandemic- which we are now learning to live with. It is the same decade when all United Nations Member states will be seeking to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which we have a crucial role to play. The next 10 years are demanding of increased youth participation. This is the time to have more youth come out and get more engaged due to existence of organizations such as ELF, which are increasing their capacities to reach out to more young people.

These organizations, however, cannot do this on their own. We all have a role to play. To achieve this, we need to be collectively engaged with a goal(s) in place, get ready to face disappointments and come out stronger, learn, unlearn, and embrace failure as part of growth.

To all organizations working towards capacity building and equipping young people with knowledge, ideas, and skills on how to be more engaged in various sectors, CHEERS, do not relent. To the private sector, there is a great role for you to play; join hands with other practitioners and help young men and women raise hope and belief. To the government, there is much more to be done than making boardroom policies that get rusty and dusty on shelves; there is much more to be done than making promises you won’t live up to; there is more to be done than the few government appointments you make to cover up for the high number of senior citizens who are getting government appointments.

To the young men and women who make the youth cut, there is much more we can do than just waiting for media interviews and twitter rants to shout ‘Serikali saidia’ and hurl insults at anyone. With devolution in place, we can engage local governments in various ways like our Tunaweza fellows are doing in the 8 counties that we  currently exist in. We can come up with ideas, proposals and present to our local leaders, keep knocking on their doors, they will finally open. Let us not wait for the national government without first knocking on the doors of our MCA’s, Governors, and relevant local offices.

This year’s theme seeks more youth engagement from the local space to the international space for global actions, let us live up to it. Let us fight for our space, grab opportunities that come along and get more involved.

 

“We all have to strive for the Best and Be Positive,” Tamara

As we have all witnessed, these turbulent times brought forth by the onset of the novel coronavirus have led to significant changes in our lives. We went from enjoying social interactions, freely attending social events over the weekends, and generally having great times with our friends, to barely being able to step outside our own homes out of fear that we might become part of the daily stats that are given by the Ministry of Health.

These changes have been so consequential, they have also affected the school lives of not only me but millions of students around the world. Some haven’t, and perhaps will never get to truly experience the culmination of education for a high school student. Some will never get to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments along with their parents, teachers, and fellow students. Although most, I included, were fortunate enough to participate in some sort of makeup online graduation ceremony, majority will agree that it was a subpar substitute for the real deal. As though being denied graduation by the pandemic wasn’t cruel enough, some of us might not be attending university in-person this year. Currently, it seems like we might never free ourselves from the thralls of the coronavirus.

In these unprecedented times, feeling bad about the past doesn’t help to solve anything.

Okay, let’s pause from Corona for a minute, I can say I was one of probably thousands or millions of first-year university students who were looking forward to orientation week and making new friends. The adrenaline rush and anxiety of saying the right thing to create the perfect impression, the fear of rejection, not fitting in, or maybe even fitting into the wrong groups. It could have been quite the experience, one that I had been anticipating for approximately 547 days (yes, there had been a countdown).  I can only imagine what it would have been like.

One of my personal habits that more than often works to my detriment is that I like to please people and while that’s fitting in a new environment, it sometimes means I create this impressionable persona that’s not a true reflection of who I am. I suppose we’ve all been in such situations, many times in an elevator pitch where you can only hope that the right side of the coin lands facing upwards by the end of the coin toss.

Now back to the elephant in the room, the pandemic. It has been a time of self-reflection and many, including myself, are now focusing on what character we would like to present after this and which is our best foot to put forward. It’s quite a challenge when we don’t really know what ‘new normal’ really means. Will we have to embody strength, courage, adaptability, unfamiliar compassion for some of us? So, what does this mean for me in my next steps?

Despite all that has happened during these past months, I can’t continue to allow it to harm my life and my mindset. The pandemic has left the world reeling and desperately searching for any sense of normalcy and with this comes new opportunities to thrive. I may not start university on campus but, this comes with the new experience of being part of the first cohort to start university online. Admittedly, while this may not be the most appealing introduction to such a vital chapter in my life, it’s quite extraordinary to begin this journey in a way nobody has ever done.

To conclude, I know I can’t reverse the flow of time. I can’t miraculously prevent the disease from infecting so many people worldwide and I definitely can’t forbid the virus from existing in the first place. What I can do is accept all that has happened, pray for the best, and move forward. In these unprecedented times, feeling bad about the past doesn’t help to solve anything. Instead, I chose to take this opportunity to find some good and look forward to what the future may hold. We all have to continue to strive for the best, despite the situations we might find ourselves in. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

Submitted by:
Tamara Lugonzo- Communications Volunteer, ELF