So far, this week has been jam-packed with valuable learning experiences.
Monday, the Columbus Foundation hosted an etiquette lunch for fellows and for students interning with The Ohio State University. I’ve never been to an etiquette lunch before and, to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I was imagining that scene in The Princess Diaries where Julie Andrews corrects all of Anne Hathaway’s little idiosyncrasies. But I’m happy to say it was nothing like that. Turns out the meaning of etiquette is not necessarily perfect posture or royal refinement, but rather putting those around you at ease. Our etiquette lunch was truly fine etiquette because we all felt comfortable enough to make mistakes and ask hard questions, like “What is the proper response when a table mate has something in his/her teeth?” I was surprised by the things I learned on Monday, many of which overturned my idea of what “proper etiquette” was (wrist check, anyone?). And so began a week of challenging misconceptions.
On Wednesday I was able to sit in on a Per Scholas board meeting. I’d been looking forward to this experience since arriving at Per Scholas because in non-profits, board members are a pretty big deal. In school, I had a non-profit business minor so in many of my classes we discussed what it’s like to work with an advisory board. My impression from my coursework was that boards can be difficult to work with because members may not know the daily ins and outs of the business or be as invested in the business because they have their own careers to focus on. I’m happy to say that is not the case at Per Scholas. The board members I’ve met have all brought valuable and informed perspectives to the table. They care deeply about the work being done here and are committed to helping us do it better. I was impressed with how willing board members were to offer their networks, talents, and resources for the betterment of Per Scholas Columbus. I think that working with a board can be difficult if you don’t know how to utilize the talents offered, but the meeting this week showed me that board members are truly an invaluable resource for non-profit businesses.
These experiences and a hundred others this week reminded me that I don’t know much at all. I’m continually being challenged to see things in a new way. As I round out the sixth week of my fellowship, I am overwhelmingly thankful for the ways this experience has shaped and re-shaped my view of the world.