Applying Knowledge and Experience from
IATSS Forum & Paying Forward to Community

Participant's Voices


  • Country : The Philippines
  • Forum : 49th batch (2012 Autumn Forum)
Happiness and excitement are perhaps the best words that can describe my feeling toward the upcoming IATSS Forum. My acceptance to the forum came at a time when my family was in grief. The final panel interview was set one day after my family and I sent my father to his final resting place. It was also one day after our flagship project wrapped up, which I wasn’t able to see through because it was my father’s interment. And it was also the day when I had to go on a trade mission abroad; hence I was carrying my luggage with me during the interview. It was a very difficult situation to manage. Many things were happening in my head. While I was still in the process of grieving, I was also controlling my nervousness and organizing my thoughts in preparation for the interview. I have been to a lot of panel interviews but I have never been this nervous in my life. One can feel the intensity, pressure and seriousness of the final exercise. And indeed, nothing could be more enjoyable and rewarding than hearing the sound of your name being called. Hence, I expect nothing less of the forum than to have a fun and fruitful learning for 55 days. Perhaps, like everybody else, I consider my participation to the forum a great blessing. But I consider mine a sweeter victory since I felt that my father was helping me along the wayeven though he was not there physically. I guess this is really how the universe keeps our lives balanced. When life seems to give us a handful of sorrow, it will offer us a bucketful of happiness afterwards.
I never thought that I would shed any tears toward the last days of the forum. I didn’t think that 55 days would be long enough to establish an emotional connection with the other participants, because it really felt as if time seemed to pass by so quickly. But the whole experience was unlike any other. When one becomes part of the IATSS forum, s/he becomes part of a new family—a family one is not born into but assigned to based on one’s capabilities and leadership potentials. Personal and cultural differences are the biggest challenges one has to deal with and adjust to. Everyone is competitive, and being sensitive and respectful are two very important traits that one needs to have to live and learn together harmoniously. Just like any other journey that one takes, the road to completing the forum will not always be a smooth ride. The forum always emphasizes that it is through joining this rather bumpy ride that one learns. It is by going through this process that we become better persons and eventually better leaders, in the same manner that the journey to a destination makes the destination more meaningful to the traveler. The tears we shed were both of joy and sorrow—the happiness of gaining new friends and learning from the IATSS experience, and the sadness that we had to part ways and return to our respective countries in the end. Indeed, reality bites, but this is my IATSS journey—a journey now filled with lovely memories.