You’ve just been accepted as a new intern for a Summer of Solutions program…let’s say Iowa City. Aside from being jubilant with excitement, you read further down the email and find out that your cohorts will, in a little over a week, be hopping into a car and spending five days (at an undisclosed location) preparing for skill sets in leadership for the summer’s program. You are enthusiastically welcomed (and subtly encouraged) to join the group on this outing. Perplexed, you scratch your head. You are new (not only to January Gathering, but to Summer of Solutions), but ambitious. As such, you reply that you will be joining the crew for the January Gathering in Chicago. You are set in your decision, though wondering who the members of your chapter are, what Grand Aspirations actually is, and, perhaps, how you got into the position that you’re in right now. The feeling of affirmation and mild terror dance in your stomach.
This is exactly (and candidly) what happened to me the week and a half right before January Gathering. Rest assured, I made it to and from Chicago in one piece and perhaps more importantly, I made it back a more ambitious person. While I can only speak for myself and my experience with those that make Grand Aspirations grand, going to a January Gathering is as much a baptism by fire as it is a chance to find a genuine community of quality people who WILL make the world a better place. There’s something to be said about jumping into the back seat of a Suburu Outback with two young guys, a young girl and her mother (the driver) and having enough humility to learn that those in the car with you are going to become some of the most impressive people you’ve ever met. And that’s before even getting to Chicago. Continue reading