It has been a long time since I have written to give you all an update and I think that I am way overdue for catching everyone up on what’s going on here at Blindy Blog. 2020 will be full of so many new experiences and potential growth for me and I am super excited to share with you all!
Last year I was scrolling through Facebook, as I often do for way too many hours a week, and I came across a post from the American Foundation for the Blind with an invitation to apply for the Blind Leaders Development Program. This inaugural year long program provides 16 blind and visually impaired fellows with an opportunity to receive in-person professional leadership training and ongoing mentorship from blind and visually impaired leaders throughout the country.
I was immediately intrigued by this program as I have long term career goals with the current state agency that I work for, but I was so nervous about the travel requirements and putting myself in a very new and potentially uncomfortable situation.
I decided to put my big girl pants on and take all of the steps necessary to apply for the program including preparing answers to a few essay questions and obtaining letters of recommendation. As I hit submit on the application I honestly thought to myself “Well at least you tried.”. I knew that this was a national program for which I was applying and that there would surely be some extreme competition. Never in a million years did I think that I would actually be one of the 16 people chosen in the entire country to receive such valuable training and mentorship.
A couple of months after I submitted the application I received a phone call from the American Foundation for the Blind informing me that I had been accepted to the Blind Leaders Development Program. I was shocked to say the least and then extremely excited and lastly very nervous.
The kickoff of the program and in-person training is in Arlington, VA which requires a travel day and several night hotel stay for Weston and I. While I have participated in plenty of travel with my family and even co-workers to attend a conference, I have never before traveled 100% solo from start to finish of a trip.
By nature I am what some may call a bit of a worrywart. I think of every possible aspect and detail of a situation and try to plan as best as I can to prevent any issues from arising. I am very blessed to have a network of friends and family that have on countless occasions in the past few months brought me back to planet earth and helped calm my anxiety.
I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity and now that the initial, and let’s be honest – secondary, anxiety has worn off I am really looking forward to taking this trip on my own and proving to myself how much I am capable of. I am excited for the new relationships and connections I will build through this program and I can’t wait to see the progress I will make over this next year.
I am so thankful to the American Foundation for the Blind and American Express for developing and funding this amazing program and I know that this will have a lasting impact on the lives of individuals living with blindness and visual impairments for years to come.
Keep an eye on Blindy Blog as I plan on documenting my progress, development and experiences throughout this program and if you have any travel tips be sure to drop them in the comments!