Shafaq participated in our Advance Leadership Program last year. This regional program follows Seeds for over six months, building on the lessons, skills, and values of Camp.
I always felt like I was a shy person, more of a follower than a leader. It’s why I came to Camp in the first place. It’s why, after Camp ended, I wanted to take everything I learned there a step further.
So when Hana, my Delegation Leader, reached out to me about joining a program for Seeds in Pakistan, I saw an opportunity to change things. The Advance Leadership Program taught me how even issues that seem straightforward are often more complex than they seem, and it helped me gain a deeper understanding of issues facing our society. I learned something else from it, too.
As part of the program, we each went to a low-income school to pass on what we learned to underprivileged students. I was assigned to be the lone girl in an all-boys class.
Nerves overtook me as I entered the room. Pakistan is one of the lowest-rated countries in gender equality; how would these boys accept a girl only a few years older than them as a teacher? What if they never gave me the respect I deserved? Did I even have what it takes to face this challenge?
Then I remembered another space that intimidated me—the dialogue huts at Camp—and how rewarding it was to engage there. By the end of my time at the school, there was no question that the students grew to accept me, respect me, really listen to what I had to say, and actually have fun!
This experience didn’t just teach me to have confidence in myself. It taught me that I can make change on my own. Shifting the perspectives of 40 kids made me realize I’m capable of doing so much more than I thought I could. And that is a lesson from the Advanced Leadership Program I’ll take with me wherever I go.