“The key is exposure” – Annita Brady

Annita Brady reflects on her first week on WIP 2012

After one of the greatest and most exhausting weeks of my life, the one statement which stood out to me and truly characterised the first week of my Washington adventure was the words of Mark Shields, “The key to dealing with difference is exposure, intimate exposure is so important”.

This week, I have been exposed to so many inspirational and interesting people and experienced so many unforgettable places. From the minute I stepped off the plane and met my host parents at the airport this “intimate exposure” began. I met two of the most welcoming and friendly people, my host Mam and Dad. I immediately felt at home in a completely different environment, from which I am used to.

My experiences of difference continued bright and early on Sunday morning, when I went to mass with my host family, to the first African-American church founded in the area, during the Civil Rights era. It was such a wonderful experience to see how a people who were so affected by perceived differences, had the courage to establish a sanctuary of hope and faith, which now sees African-American and Caucasian people standing side by side worshipping paintings and statues of an African-American Jesus. This exposure to different people and places continued throughout the week however, what remained constant throughout all these experiences, was how they made me think about and question myself and situations in a new light.

For me personally, one of the most profound meetings of the week was with Roselle Harde of Accenture. Roselle’s training on negotiation really made me identify and explore aspects of myself which, I wouldn’t have given much thought to before. Her advice, “it’s not what you say, it’s what you hear”, resonated with me and encouraged me to think critically about how much I actively listen and question my personal balance between talking and listening. It certainly sparked my thinking about my personal development on this programme and into the future.

The meeting and talk with Kevin Laudano also stood out as another defining moment in the week which affected my thinking on my personal development, was his thought provoking question about how we want ourselves to be seen? This is a question which I will keep in mind throughout the next seven weeks. I ended this week on a complete high overlooking the Potomac river on the lawns of none other than, George Washington’s home on his Mount Vernon estate. It was completely surreal to walk through the home of one of the founding fathers of the nation.

I couldn’t be happier or more grateful right now!