AB, CD, & EF of Week 1

4 airports, 3 flights, 2 transits and glad to still be in 1 piece although a little weathered, I found myself standing in anxious anticipation at the baggage care with thoughts mildly drifting into wonder-I am finally here . . . What’s next? Will make it past week 1? And other What if’s flooded my thoughts when I was suddenly jerked back to the present

“ Ma’am, is this your bag?: asked the kind Dulles airport staff who had kindly assisted me. I gave him a feeble smile and couldn’t help thinking “ poor guy” . all he had to go with in identifying my second bag was that it is a black duffle bag with a single yellow ribbon. Well, having been used to travelling frequently and being visually impaired myself, one would think that I would have devised a more convenient mechanism to address this situation. For instance, I could carry a photo of my bags or have more visible identification. But no- my thoughts have not been acted on. The poor guy examined over 10 bags and mine was nowhere to be found-

Lesson:- Thoughts must be translated into action

Anyway, this leads me to share the AB, CD and EF of week 1 of the YSEALI Spring Cohort 2018.

  1. Anticipating BlundersLesson: When there is more than 1 basket, divide the eggs to cut losses-
  2. In thinking of being smart in my packing for this 6 week long journey[ to DC and my host Community in Florida] I thought that I would pack a smaller bag with all warm clothes specifically for the cooler[ temperature] and shorter DC leg so as to not have to open the larger suitcase meant for the warmer Florida leg. But alas, Murphy visits are unannounced. [ Anything that can go wrong will]. My small black duffle bag unfortunately got left behind in my 2nd airport of transit, Chicago.Night 1 was going to be a long cold one- Thankfully, my bag found it’s way to the hotel the very next day-
  3. Common DenominatorsThe one common thread that underpinned the various interesting presentations, speeches, activities and projects is the role of Common Denominators. Of course ICMA in its program development has set Environmental Sustainability as the common denominator for one of the thrusts, Tony and Kara in overseeing our fellowship are common denominators to our wellbeing and as the doorway for professional development opportunities; the various presenters emphasis on the importance of identifying common denominators within an all inclusive stakeholder group as a key ingredient in propelling environmental sustainability; and ICMA and State Department speakers David Grossman and Chris Remsen respectively, who stress upon mutual understanding and common goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals as being key; and lastly, through our assigned project, as a collective group of diverse technical and cultural interest, we found a common denominator to stand up for sustainability.
  4. On the orientation front, it was a fun filled, informatively insightful and eye opening experience. South East Asia is a region known not only for its biological diversity, but also its biological diversity. The fellow Professional Fellows brought a range of interesting and thought provoking concepts ranging from self-sufficiency and zero waste, along with various cultural flavours to the various discussions.

]Special thanks to Tony and Kara for the diverse and amazing line up of speakers Jeff Soule from the American Planning Association, Sanaz Arjomand of the American Farmland Trust And Joshua Murphy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Administration and the presenters for the insightful presentation and discussion.


Lesson: Together, much can be accomplished


  1. Elementary Fears

Living in a world which is neither pitch black nor visually complete, and having to navigate through daily live which is visually not comprehendible, Elementary Fears are inevitable. Anxiety over tripping and falling, bumping into things, fitting in, keeping up with visual dependant conversations or discussions is common. I say they are elementary because whilst it exists, it has not suppressed activity. I believe this programme has provided me with an additional opportunity to explore, share and tackle some of these elementary fears through appealing to compassion of professionals, finding / building friendships in fellows and taking a chance on the Self.

Lesson: Faith can influence fate

Life is an amazing journey and I feel privileged yet again to be amidst passionate, compassionate/ considerate / fellows, facilitators and more importantly friends in whose company I have reduced Anticipation of Blunders, in standing as equals we will find Common Denominators to develop as individuals and professionals[ at least, I hope I will].As our paths diverge for the next 4 weeks, I look forward to what lies ahead and sincerely wish my fellow fellows well-



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