Fort Worth, Texas – Participating in the International Leadership Academy 2016

A year ago I returned home from Fort Worth, where I was a participant at the „International Leadership Academy“ which is an international issues forum where students from 8 countries meet and discuss a certain topic.

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Before the actual program started, we visited the Texas Rangers Baseball Stadium with the Swazis.

These countries are Mexico, Italy, Hungary, China, Japan, Swaziland, Indonesia, Germany and of course, the USA. Only Fort Worth’s sister cities have access to the program.

All the people I got to know are very important to me now. I text them almost everyday and I am very glad that certain social media platforms make it possible for us to stay in touch.

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„ILA“ is a great opportunity to meet people who are highly interested in social activities, politics and international friendships. We had two sessions every day where we worked on the topic „Building a Culture of Health“, which was selected for ILA 2016. Additionally, we did many activities together for example helping at a community center and visiting a center where they collected food for homeless people and families who could not afford groceries. We also went to different malls and to the historical district of Fort Worth which was great! I will later write a blogpost about the city and its sights.

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Me fooling around, unfortunately my friend who took the photo cut my feet off.

Generally, all the friendly, open-minded and caring people- including Facilitators, Delegation Leaders and Program Participants made the program very special and I assume that there is no other program in the world where everyone is so passionate about and engaged in working together.

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The campus is huge! It is like a little student village.

Additionally, I really liked the topic „Building a culture of health“ because I think in course of the globalization which is followed by more work and also stress, it is very important to care about other people’s cultures and about oneself. Also stress should not be underestimated because people have to be healthy in order to deal with it appropriately. Furthermore, it was great to do group activities and especially visiting business companies in Fort Worth. Thus we got a brief insight into their work and how they help society.

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This is the Football field where the Horned Frogs play American Football. We used to go running every morning at 6am and did some stair running in the stadium. We had to go running very early because breakfast was at 8 and we even had 28 degrees in the morning. (38 degrees in the afternoon)

In addition, I had the honor to interview three very inspiring business people with two other boys of the program. I am very glad that I had this opportunity because I learned a lot about these people, about their work-life-balance and how two deal with too much work and stress.
At this point I would like to thank Sister Cities for offering me this great opportunity!

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Me and the „Horned Frog“

We stayed at the TCU (Texas Christian University) Campus for two weeks but we also spent a weekend in a host family. This weekend with my host family was probably the best weekend in my life so far. They were very friendly and hospitable. They brought me to all the great places in- and around Fort Worth. It was great because they introduced me to activities they also like to do at weekends and I was able to do „typical american things“. They planned the weekend and also asked my what I would like to do, for example going to the Kimbell art museum where I was able to see some of my favorite paintings by Piet Mondrian or Michelangelo. We also went to the rodeo which was very exciting for me because we do not have similar things in Germany. Additionally, we went to a Drive-In movie theater which reminded me stereotypically of the movie „Grease“ – it was great! But these were only three of many activities. They were also very interested in German Culture and in my everyday life. There was always something to talk about.

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The entrance to the Football stadium

Participating in the International Leadership Academy was the best decision of my life and these two weeks were the best weeks in my whole life so far. I would appreciate coming back 2018 or 2019 and hopefully one day I can say „I’ve been to all the Sister Cities countries and I was able to meet all my friends there!“!

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They even had a huge food court, a Starbucks and the Recreation Center (Fitness Center with an indoor track field, 3 Basketball fields, a climbing wall, a gym and two swimming pools) on campus. There were also Beach Volley Ball fields in addition to the Football stadium and the Basketball arena.

Looking at these pictures makes me really sad because I really miss the time and all the people I got to know there. I miss the hot sun in Texas, I miss candy shopping, I miss dancing salsa with my Mexican friends in the evening in front of our dorm, I miss having pool parties and swimming with my friends from Swaziland and I really miss my host family. Actually it is really hard to write about this experience because my eyes are almost filled with tears.
But I should not be whining because I am grateful for this experience and furthermore, I will be starting my next adventure very soon!

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Me posing in the heat, 100 degrees Fahrenheit

Have you ever participated in a similar program or have you ever experienced something so great that you actually feel miserable thinking about it because you really miss the the people and the place? Let me know in the comments!

Love,
Sophie

Reconsidering – How to survive the 21st century

Every morning you wake up at the same time, moaning into your pillow, wishing you could just stay in bed forever. You crawl out of your bed, exhausted. Your body is aching from all the stress you had the past few weeks. Walking into the bathroom, your eyes are still in pain because of the bright lights you just turned on. Looking into the mirror, your eyes move across the wrinkles on your forehead and the dark circles around your tired eyes. Your cheeks look sunken and the emptiness in your gaze reflects the inner turmoil you are fighting every day.

Can you relate to this description? Then you should probably read on.

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Today many people suffer from this „fatigue“. In the course of globalization and the increasing competition on the labour market, we have to work a lot in order to make a living.
Twenty years ago, it was common to do the same job for decades.
But in the 21st century, the world is moving forward at a tearing pace. And we have to keep up with it. Globalization and technology demands us to accelerate our working, to be perfectionist about everything we do and to give 100% everyday and every time.
Some people collapse while trying to fit in the image of the perfect man/woman of the 21st century, with good cause.

However, life should not only consist of working, worrying, stressing and failing.
The #YOLO hype is (Thank God!) over, however, the idea is important and we should refer to it once in a while.
Since I often think about how to destress and how to (sometimes) give a ****,
I would like to share my personal „Stress-Survival-Kit“ with you, although these tips are very basic I guess.

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You will never be perfect

Doing a perfect job always depends on the view and the mindset of the person who is judging you. Everyone has his own priorities and ideas and you cannot please them all.
There are people in the world who will love to see you stumbling and tumbling and these people will do everything to make you fall. You should be aware of this and try to understand their way of thinking.
What matters at the end of the day, is that you are at least content with what you have already achieved. You will never be perfectly happy with your work.
If you give 80% and people are satisfied with your work, everything is fine. Why should you give 100% if nobody will ever appreciate the effort you put in your work?
What I want to say with this is, that you should not put too much effort into something, when you already know that nobody will acknowledge it.

Learn to manipulate

No, this does not mean that you should hatch plots. What I actually mean is that you should learn how other people think. If there is someone who wants to detain you from being successful, you need to manipulate him in a way that he is thinking that you adapt to his will, although you are not. You need to learn how to act correctly while secretly achieving your goals.

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Know your purpose

Before being successful, you need to know what your goals are. Nobody ever became successful through wandering around without knowing his purpose.
Know your weaknesses and your strengths and elaborate on them.
Admitting that you are not very good at something and doing something about it, will actually make you stronger and admirable.

Learn to say NO

Learning to say no is something which makes you powerful and will give you the strength to manage the important tasks at work and in your life.
Doing everything at once will exhaust you and because of the upcoming stress you will have to deal with, your projects will lack quality.
Hence, you should prioritize and focus on the tasks that really matter and the ones which will enrich your (work-)life.

Down shifting

Lacking energy and motivation is human. If your motivation is gone, you will need to fuel yourself with positive energy.
Find your work-life balance and know your limitations.
Do something that sparks joy, play an instrument or do charity.
Doing charity work will help you to understand that your problems are (usually) temporary and that there are people who truly need YOUR help.
Helping other people will probably get you back on track because it refreshes your mind and you will bear a helping hand.

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What is your „Stress-Survival-Kit“? What do you think about mine? Please share your thoughts in the comments, albeit you may have a completely different opinion on this topic.

 

And always remember: „Every cloud has a silver lining!“

 

Love, Sophie

 

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