We are trained in a curriculum that teaches five core life skills (leadership, self-confidence, teamwork, healthy habits, and communication) through sports. This makes our program unique and is the basis for why GSW exists. We try to include as many lessons as possible every class and aim to assess the program’s importance by evaluating the growth of our girls in these five areas throughout the year. A lesser evaluated area is the extent to which the Project Managers also grow in these areas during their time working for GSW. Straight from the mouths of two Project Managers, here are our experiences learning the life skills we teach every day.
We are the leaders of a fearless team of Chicas Dinámicas, the captains of the ship, and completely run the day-to-day show. The girls look to us to set an example in what we eat, how we dress, and the words we use. We make choices knowing that we are on display, even when we aren’t trying to be, which leads us to be our best selves all the time. Outside of the classroom, we take initiative and lead in areas that are otherwise foreign to us. Working for such a small organization allows us to take a crack at some pretty big tasks, so we get the freedom in this position to grow and try new things. Part of leading means making ourselves uncomfortable and taking the time to learn new things for your team, ultimately advancing the group.
Gaining confidence is always a struggle to overcome, especially in a completely foreign atmosphere. Moving to Cusco and coaching a team of unsuspecting girls in a different language was one of the biggest challenges we faced. Communicating efficiently, coordinating with fast-speaking administrators and parents, and not accidentally ordering guinea pig were all a bit difficult with little confidence in our Spanish-speaking abilities. With time, we learned that it is okay to make mistakes and having confidence in our progress has been the best way to get past these fears. Now we don’t think twice about it. Spending time with ourselves to increase confidence in these areas hasn’t been easy, but having a partner in crime to help aid in our personal growth makes it all the more manageable.
We are part of our Chicas Dinámicas team, but when we signed onto the job, we also joined a team of strong businesswomen who run GirlSportWorks. We have learned how to work with others in a professional setting, set goals, make a group calendar, and team up to meet deadlines. We have congratulated each other through successes and sent condolences during hard times. We also have learned each others’ strengths and weaknesses and found how to complement each other in a professional setting. We divide and conquer, and acknowledge the things that we do well, while working to improve in the areas that are difficult. We are five parts of one heart, all beating for GirlSportWorks, and we work best when we’re in sync. Learning the idiosyncrasies of four other women takes time, but goes a long way in ensuring that we function in the best way possible. When we joined this team we signed on for more than a job, we found a family.
4. Healthy Habits
As fresh college graduates, we had little experience with the “real world” before this year. Since living in Cusco, we have established healthy habits in paying bills on time, buying groceries and cooking food every day, managing a monthly budget, and making sure our cat, Tobi, gets fed every day. (Not to mention, our three months of vacation time when we budgeted to the cent every day to make sure we made it home). We will take these skills with us beyond this year. The choices that we make about what we put into our bodies and how we manage our time all influence how healthy our life is. We also have learned the importance of down time, and we have indulged in the occasional movie night complete with gummy worms and popcorn. Everyone needs a break every once in a while, and nourishing our mental health is just as important as our physical.
Before moving to Cusco, we were both nervous about speaking Spanish. While we felt mildly confident getting around, managing to converse with administrators, teach classes, discipline girls, and coordinate over night field trips was a whole different matter. Over the course of the past nine months, we have become near-fluent in Spanish, only to be occasionally corrected by our best teachers, the girls. We have also learned how to communicate in a professional setting. This includes phrasing an email about a new idea to our boss, or writing to a volunteer to explain why the program might not be a good fit for her. As representatives for GirlSportWorks, we have learned how to adopt the language of the organization in everything that we do. What’s more, having lived, worked, and breathed together for nearly a year, encountering problems was inevitable. We had to learn how to communicate effectively, honestly, and efficiently with and without words, and it is safe to say that we have learned just that.
-Alika and Lydia