Reflections on Learning and Growing

This blog was written by Allison Cowie ’18, 2018-2019 Davidson Impact Fellow for the Salzburg Global Seminar.

As we are interviewing candidates for the 2019-20 DIF position at Salzburg Global Seminar, I can’t help but reflect on my past nine months here, and where I see the final three months of my fellowship going before I transition to a more permanent role at Salzburg Global.

When I arrived in Washington, DC, late last June, I was eager, optimistic, curious—ready to jump head-first into this phase of life. Barely a month out of college, suitcases still unpacked, I was surrounded by continual reminders of my newness to it all: my first lease to sign, a public transit system to figure out and a neighborhood to make my home, all to the rhythm of subway musicians and cicadas and city traffic echoing in the District’s heavy heat.

This sense of overwhelming wonder hit before I even showed up at Salzburg Global Seminar, which was the reason I had decided, three weeks earlier, to move to Washington in the first place. When I found out about the Salzburg DIF opening in the middle of taking my last set of final exams, immediately I knew I had just stumbled into the path of an amazing opportunity. To spend a year working for an organization committed to bringing together global leaders across generations, cultures and sectors sounded like a perfect fit: after tailoring my Davidson education to focus on international cultural studies and engagement experiences, I knew I wanted to continue to immerse myself in this world well beyond my four years in college.

The chance to learn from Salzburg Global’s uber-talented staff and contribute meaningfully to this organization’s work made it an easy decision to start life anew in DC after graduation. When I walked in that first morning, I was confident from conversations with Elizabeth, who held the DIF role in 2017-18, that whatever my day-to-day tasks ended up being, I would be working with a team of incredible people to support this organization’s valuable work. Throughout my time here, this has proven true even beyond what I could have expected: I not only find that the work I do substantially contributes to the organization’s success, but also feel like I have found a true vocation in which I can see myself continuing to learn and grow.

Thinking back to that time, nine months can feel like forever and a blink—since I first arrived in DC and at Salzburg Global Seminar, I have grown enormously both professionally and personally. In this past year of exploring who I am—in this job, in this city, in the many communities I now call home—my biggest realization has been that growth does not necessarily require constant change, at least not in the way I’d always approached growth before; that I can learn and grow while putting down roots instead of needing to move on right away to the next job, the next city, the next step. That’s why I’m especially excited to stay on with Salzburg Global after my DIF fellowship ends this summer: now that I have spent real time getting to know the organization, I am now ready and able to contribute to Salzburg Global in an even more meaningful capacity.

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