Philip O’Callaghan reflects on 2 weeks in DC

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Soren Kierkegaard
Two weeks have passed so very quickly now and time seems to have quickened in pace. What I have realised over the last two weeks is that I have never taken the time to stop and take in all the experiences that I have gained. I sit here now at the laptop free from any distractions, yet I am struggling to put into words all the many inspirational people we have met over the last two weeks. These reflections I feel will come at a time when is least expected and that may be when I return home to Dublin. I am not, however brushing over the fact that we have met some great people such as Jake Sullivan who is Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff, the fact of the matter is this, the experiences I have gained need to be taken out of context, they need time to mould themselves in the coming weeks of the program and they need to be made relevant to my life and where I am professionally and personally.
Last week we have some discussion around the ideals of feedback, this got me thinking. I came out to Washington DC with the aim to be challenged on all aspects of my professional life. I wanted to be pushed on Education policy, I wanted to be held account on my political views and I most definitely wanted to be held account for my actions. However, the overriding aspect that sat with me and remained with my as I made my way home on the metro last Friday night was this ideal of feedback. The thought struck me that in order for me to give and receive feedback I had to be secure of who I was. The question I put to myself was, ‘Who Am I’, who is Philip O’Callaghan, what do I stand for and more importantly what do I not stand for. What follows is up for debate and I welcome thoughts from my fellow WIP classmates on this!
For one I am a firm believer in the power of Education in today’s society, many people know this already and I have talked and written about this topic many times. On personal reflection I firmly believe in a balance approach to anything that I undertake or do. For me a balanced approach in all aspects of life enable me to deal with situations better. I hold the view that I am somebody who can listen to other people and somebody that can be listened too, in terms of what I have to say in the field of Education and indeed Politics.
What many people might have summed up over the last two weeks is that I would be a keen observer! Not always in the centre of the group rather on the outskirts taking all aspects of our group dynamic in.  With observation I feel comes a greater understanding of other people, however I will say this in terms of being the observant person in the group, this can often lead to me being a very transient person, always moving from group to group and not being rigid in terms of friendship development or groups.
I have a keen awareness of others and the impact my actions have on them. I can I believe read people well and I have an acute awareness of who they are and what they are about.
What I discovered over the last two weeks is something that I have tried to tackle for some time and that is, not getting so stressed and worried over things. My parents say I worry a lot and they are right. For me I have adopted a new catchphrase and that is, ‘I am a going with the flow!!’ What ever happens happens and the days over getting too stressed about a situation I hope a drawing to an end. I might add a disclaimer to the last statement, in going with the flow this will not impact of the level of professionalism I will exude over the coming weeks and beyond and I am afraid that my OCD tendencies are staying!