I'm basically in diapers when we talk about mapping, open data, or how both are used for community development. Even so, I was given the INCREDIBLE (sorry to use such a basic word to describe it, but if I think it over, no fancy vocabulary could really do justice to the experience I lived and I firmly believe that in simplicity one can also find great feelings) opportunity to be one of 20 candidates to participate in the "First YouthMappers Leadership Fellows Workshop" in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Following the structure of my colleagues, I have to tell you that just like them the acceptance letter caught me by surprise. I realized I had been selected thanks to one of my classmates and I screamed and did a dance of victory in front of my colleagues. This EXTREME bliss lasted for 1 week after it collided with the reality of "OH MY GOD, WHAT AM I GONNA SAY?" Among all the things that should have worried me, the only thing that took away my dream was the idea of not knowing how to express myself, not having enough experience to be in this position or simply being a disaster. I recalled the saying that "there are no silly questions, only fools who do not ask" and felt that it could be both the silly question and I the silly girl who did not ask.
However, it is a great pleasure for me to tell you that my nightmares were unfounded. I think I did well and that is due thanks to the (again I am left without words to describe it) AMAZING team that welcomed us in the city of Kathmandu. Everyone from the YouthMappers representatives, to the amazing team of Kathmandu Living Labs, to, I must also mention, the staff of all the places we visited made our experience a very close encounter to enlightenment.
Each presentation made by our tutors, every presentation made by my mates, every activity, every talk outside of "work time", every meal and dance lesson, meant for me, and I hope that my other mates agree with it, an unimaginable source of knowledge. It is still impossible for me to believe that I was sharing space with such intelligent, candid, ingenious, curious, but above all, passionate minds and hearts with the same desire to generate a positive impact on the lives of others. When you meet individuals with similar goals and passion it is impossible to set them aside. My comfort is that even after this wonderful experience, I will continue to stay in touch with them thanks to technology, the same technology that I will use to help others will help me not to break into a thousand pieces for longing to spend time with my new friends.
In this adventure, I shaped my goals and projects, I developed new ones, and I thought of others. I left my comfort zone, I was given a free opinion space, and an opportunity to test my skills. I experienced with one of the most vibrant and richest cultures I have ever met, full of friendly people with a strong desire to help, even if it is with a single rhythmic movement of the head.
The adventure is not yet finished, just like matter is being transformed or evolving. The first of these changes will begin on September 1 and then new adventures that will be as or more incredible and enriching as First YouthMappers Leadership Fellows Workshop.