Editor's Note: The Indiana University Indianapolis Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and The Patterson Foundation partnered on "TPF Immersive Impact: Through Engagement and Consulting," a special topics course for the school's students during the spring 2024 semester. The course connects students to The Patterson Foundation's innovative approach to philanthropy and nonprofits in the region engaged in the Foundation's initiatives.

 

How could I describe a week that passed by in a blur? Is it possible to describe an experience made up of a thousand planned and unplanned micro-moments that, if taken individually, could each be a highlight but, when put together, are close to overwhelming?

Throughout my life, I've had many of these experiences, and to help me remember them, I always make sure to immortalize them through my camera or phone so that they can be looked back on and better absorbed once all the excitement dies down. This ability to document and capture moments has allowed me to step into the past and relive the moments, squeezing out life lessons that can apply to my profession and life in general.

Here are some of my memorable micro-moments from the Study Away trip 2024 trip in Sarasota, Florida, during Spring Break and the lessons I've extrapolated from them.

  • The Dawn on Big Bets—Winston, a fellow student, was reading Big Bets: Large Scale Change Really Happens by Rajiv Shah. The dawn breaking over the horizon and lighting up the book was almost symbolic of The Patterson Foundation making a "big bet" on the Study Away Class to help make that "change" happen. 

  • Friendsheeps at Embracing Our Differences Gallery—We were all graduate and undergraduate students from the Lilly School of Philanthropy. Though we had different interests and personalities, this didn't hinder any friendships from forming during the trip.

  • The Reading Family Statue—A statue outside the public library reminded me of my childhood, when my parents would read bedtime stories to me and my brothers. Bedtime stories planted a seed of love for reading and learning, which I've been fortunate to cultivate to this day.

  • "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works" at Resilient Retreat—This quote indeed reflected the importance of incorporating clients' needs when planning and designing any service. Design is one of the unconscious teaching tools that will help the clients absorb and learn whatever you're trying to convey to them.

  • Wars America has fought in the last 150 years—As a non-US citizen, seeing my country in the photos reminded me of how not only the U.S. but the whole world has benefited from the sacrifice of these soldiers. The sacrifice of a few for the benefit of many.

  • The Lemurs at the Big Cat Habitat—Sometimes, the unplanned micro-moments stand out the most. Not only was the trip to visit the lemurs planned only the day before by Pamela, but I didn't expect to get this much interaction with the "non-cat" species. The baby lemurs looked scary at first, but once you got to carry one, you realized just how soft and cuddly they were, making me associate them more with my own cat rather than the resident "big cat" liger, tigers, and jaguars.

The Patterson Foundation and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University take pride in the excellence of their programs, which is achieved through detailed planning and implementation. This year's Study Away Class can testify that our itineraries were filled to the brim with lectures, consultations, dinner meets, and presentations, ensuring that we made the most of the trip. (Video: Study Away 2024: 6 Days in 6 mins)

But life rarely goes according to plan, and working in the humanitarian sector has made me witness this firsthand.

So I've learned to do what I can, when I can, to never take each moment for granted, to see the silver lining in the storm, and to be grateful for whatever comes my way. I take peace and comfort in the knowledge that the same God who has led me through all of life's experiences will continue to lead me onward from here.

"Life is a journey, and the road we travel has twists and turns which sometimes lead us to unexpected places and unexpected people. But in turn, it always leads us to our destination." – Igwe Daniel Kelechi.


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