As I sat in my hotel room near GSK House, preparing for the PULSE training that would begin the next morning, so many different emotions ran through my head. I was jet lagged, excited, nervous, hopeful, and anxious to meet the group. What would they be like? What would the training be like? Would I feel different, coming out of these 3 days?
Months of planning had led up to this. It started in November, talking to family and friends about applying to PULSE; a skills-based program that embeds GSK employees with global NGOs for 3-6 month assignments. January 2018 was focused on writing my application, and then it was months of excited nerves as I waited to see if I would be contacted, waited to hear the outcome of my interview, waited to hear about my NGO “match”, see if we would be a good fit (we are!), and then get to work on everything that needed to be done prior to my assignment.
But somehow it had all happened, I had been selected, and I was here, ready to meet the other volunteers and learn how we would Change Ourselves, Change our NGO partners, and Change GSK. I got up that morning, got ready, did some deep breathing, and forced my introverted extrovert of a self to put on a big smile and introduce myself to 53 other people, from 20 countries, set to be deployed to 30 different countries, to work for 26 different NGOs. That’s a mouthful! And while I was excited for the days ahead, I was woefully under prepared for how humbling, transformative, and inspiring this experience would be. To hear the history of the truly singular GSK PULSE program, to hear the amazing stories of PULSE alumni, and to get to know the wonderful 10th anniversary class of volunteers was nothing short of magical.
And all this brought me back to one of the reasons I applied for PULSE, and why my assignment at the Philadelphia Education Fund is so perfect: Family. I felt like I had just gained a new and wonderful family. I am the daughter of educators, and I am about to embark on a journey to help support educators and students. I am a scientist, and I will be focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. And I am a strong believer in the words of my mother and Obi Wan Kenobi (yes, that’s a Star Wars reference. I told you I was a scientist, right?), that the truths we so desperately cling to, often depend on our point of view. My family of origin felt it so important that we widen our point of view, widen our set of experiences, grow as people, and help others as a result.
And so, here I am, a member of the PULSE 10 class, ready to embark on a new adventure! Ready to be excited, and nervous, and have my eyes opened by new people and places. Ready to use my experience, as well as learn brand new skills, and help curious young minds. I am proud to say I am a GSK PULSE volunteer, and I look forward to growing as a person, helping the Philadelphia Education Fund, the students and educators of Philadelphia, and bringing my new perspectives back to GSK. One of the speakers at our training, and a PULSE alum herself, Carissa Vados, said something that struck me. “One of the best ways you can change GSK, is to get outside of GSK, at least for a little while.” Well, here I go…