For many of the Allies this year, we came from out of state with no connection to Miami other than the PA program. Collaboration and asset-based thinking quickly became necessary to navigate the city. We worked together to find things to do, places to live, things to see. We built on our assets, relying on our Miami natives to give us the ins and outs and working together to ensure that work didn’t take over our lives.
Collaboration isn’t just for capacity building at our placements or building team service projects, it’s for when things get rough and you need someone to balance you.
It’s for when you need a smile and they have an extra joke. Collaboration is motivation. It means saying this is where I am headed, this is where you are headed, and this is how we can strengthen and support each other to get where we want to be.
As Allies, we have learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses, leadership styles, hidden talents, biggest fears, and wildest dreams. Being asset-based in our daily lives benefits us individually. I know who to call on if I need a photographer, a therapy session, to discuss the rights of women, or figure out what type of butterfly I caught.
Now what about being a continuous learner?
Allies learn from each other every day. From a sense of fashion to the causes being fought for in various countries, the Public Allies of Miami are well informed.
We share knowledge, we debate, we learn random facts, we present new perspectives on common issues. This is how we learn.
Our program managers work hard to provide us with a variety of information during our training sessions but more than that, they create a free and safe space were we can discuss any issue. They understand that it’s not just the presenters that we learn from; in fact, I am pretty sure they only bring in the presenters as a catalyst to fuel our discussions. It’s the difference between theory and applied knowledge.
We are growing as people, personally and professionally. We are a family and family pushes you forward. We learn from each other, we see the impact these lessons have in our lives and the lives of our peers so when we do go into the community the connection is there, we get it!
The less you learn, the less you grow; and the less you grow the less you can empower yourself or others.
Location is everything, and what better place to be than the sunny beaches of Miami. But, if you ask one of the Allies the benefit of being here, it’s not only the sun and the sand that are great assets to Miami. It’s the fact that we don’t have to leave our own neighborhoods to experience new cultures.
I don’t have to wait to get my passport stamped to eat authentic Cuban or fly across the ocean to take photos of exotic plants and animals. I can call my fellow Allies and take a trip to Little Havana or step outside and visit one of the many botanical gardens. I can experience the beauty of Haitian art or take a trip to the past in one of the many historical neighborhoods Miami offers.
I realized that in my first year down hear what made the city unbearable was I wasn’t engaged, I had no new experiences in a city so rich in culture and history.
Public Allies has changed that for me. I asked fellow Allies to give me there input on what they’ve gotten from the program so far. The title of this blog series was taken from one response.
Many of the ideas I expressed are based on the thoughts and conversations we have shared. One of the Allies said:
I get to view Miami in a perspective not many get to see as well as work with brilliant minded people who are out to make a difference.
Public Allies forces you to look deeper, to accept not only the differences of others but to accept your own differences. Those differences make us unique, they make us human.
What does all of this mean to the communities we serve? It means they get a group of people who are dedicated and determined to making a change. A group of young people that embrace diversity and revel in the wealth of knowledge housed in the communities we serve, just waiting to be tapped into.
As Allies we are future leaders; leaders who will be capable of compassion and understanding and who won’t hesitate to acknowledge where and when we need help and reach out to fill that gap. Public Allies Miami is a family. Once a P.A.M. always a P.A.M.
Post Written By:
Butler Center for Service and Leadership
Office of Civic and Community Engagement