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In January 2020, nine young communicators from the four corners of the world embarked on a transformative journey to India - venturing into the unknown, stretching their limits, and trusting in God's will and God's way. Over the next four months, they attended the Global Fellowship Programme on Compassion and Social Communications, the result of a partnership between our Association and the Xavier University of Bhubaneswar (XUB).
After becoming the first generation of young communicators to graduate from the programme, our fellows returned to their home countries, carrying with them new knowledge, skills, and lifelong memories. And so, one year later, we reached out to some of our fellows, asking them to reflect upon the personal and spiritual growth they gained through this experience.
In this multi-part series, Solange from Argentina, Elena and Sandra from Mexico, Isaac from Togo and Xavier from Cuba share the most powerful lessons that have changed their lives.
How do you apply the ideas learned during the programme in your day-to-day life?
Solange: I'm starting with my personal project and all the learnings, my fellows and teachers come to my mind all the time. It's a real challenge to keep reflecting about my path and all my actions all the time. One of the things that I apply the most is the idea of dialogue to learn from all the different perspectives out there, learning to really listen is one of the most valuable things I got from this experience. Also, of course, the care of nature and our common home is more present than ever in my life!
Elena: Every day I keep in mind that what we do has to have a social purpose, we are not without others, and every effect has a reaction in our lives and the lives of other people. I have learned to learn from others, to recognize the gifts of people to improve, and to form a team. Now, I realize more that creativity can save us and that from it, we can achieve better things. It is required for any activity, work or personal life.
Isaac: In my tenure as a development officer, I am involved in managing different projects, especially in Africa. Many values expressed in Laudato Si such as compassion, interconnectivity, the care of nature and the poor are now the basis of the development of the project I work on, but also the principle guiding my interactions with the stakeholder I am called to serve.
Xavier: After a journey like this one, one fills a backpack with faces and teachings, and the memories they generated. How to forget the emphatic voice of Professor Nat; the laughter of Eljay; the wisdom of Amal; the joy and conversation of my friends, Sol, Sandra, Lena, Kike, Raúl, Sumit, Perry and Isaac; the comforting presence of our colleagues in SIGNIS and the XUB. Each one left something that is, now, part of my life in a substantial way. Maybe a line, a prayer or a phone call, but my life will never be the same after living for six months in India.
Sandra: Compassion! In the beginning, I didn't understand at all what compassion was about, even in the programme I felt it very romantic. But wow! The compassion we learnt from our teachers, from the Teachings of the Church to the Laudato Si', and from our mentors towards us. Compassion is everything, and we must cultivate it daily! It is more than just teaching social justice and laws; it is educating the heart and the spirit (what every religion deeply teaches!). I learned it starts from oneself, showing compassion towards my own humanity, so it can naturally flow to people and other creatures (animals, plants, water...).