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Each month I’ll let you know what I heard around the network. This is my first attempt at this, so feedback is welcome.

Here’s what I noticed in February 2019:

Who did I talk to?

I’ve decided to publish a list of the scholars that I’ve spent time with each month because I want to be accountable for connecting with the entire network, not just the people that I already know. I’ll be working with some people more than others (so you’ll see some names more than others), but I want to make sure that people know that I want to be spending time with everyone.

This month I spoke with 49 (ish, this isn’t an exact science yet) alumni in a substantial way. The definition of “substantial” is developing; for now it means an IRL meeting (or brief chat), a phone call, or an email exchange (one email going each way). I’m padding my stats right now with 2 or 3 interactions that meet the email exchange threshold but weren’t really all that deep. We’ll see if I decide to leave those instances in the count as time goes on. I’ve also decided to leave my contact with in-stream scholars off of this list right now.

I think that there is 100% likelihood that I’ve forgotten someone on this list so please accept my apologies and let me know if I have. The methodology for building this list was determined retrospectively, meaning that I didn’t have a good system in place for tracking this last month. I’m hoping to have a process better than reviewing my calendar and inbox in place for the next report.

What did we talk about?

I want to give you a flavour of some of the things that I’m talking about when I interact with people in our network. Sometimes our conversations are a little bit edgy, maybe because we’re discussing frustrations or figuring something out in a candid way. That’s why I’m not always going to directly connect the concepts or topics discussed with the people that I discuss them with (and I just won’t include some things). It’s also why I’m going to experiment with re-framing a lot of what we discuss as questions that others can engage with. I’m learning so much from each of you, so tell me if you want to expand on a topic for public consumption and I’ll work with you to create something that we can share with everyone. However, until then, I’ll share most of what we discuss in a generally anonymous way (although, let’s be serious, you’ll probably be able to figure some of these things out if you really try).

  • What are the benefits of bringing together inter-generational groups to address community challenges?
  • How do you settle into a new city?
  • How do you maintain a healthy tension between youth engagement and family engagement in mental health work?
  • What common experiences do women have when replacing or following a longtime male leader?
  • To what extent are participatory, collective, and collaborative styles of leadership viewed negatively when contrasted with more top down approaches?
  • How do we recognize and take responsibility for the privilege of being a Loran Scholar?
  • To what extent do you still think of yourself as a Loran Scholar?
  • What does it mean for “Canada to thrive?”
  • How do we ensure human well-being while also respecting the environment?
  • How do you start a business in France?
  • What is the dark side of being pushed to grow and achieve when you are in undergrad?
  • How can you feed someone’s drive, curiosity, and ambition while simultaneously teaching them about self-care and how to say ‘no’?
  • Am I really okay with closing the door on some of the opportunities that are available to me because I love my family life?
  • How do we connect Alumni on the right level?
  • How do I want Loran to interact with me as a donor?
  • What can we learn from Tiger Woods?
  • To what extent is philanthropy good or bad for democracy?
  • How do we support innovation in the public sector?
  • What is the best way to organize the Loran alumni network?
  • What is service in the really busy years of being a parent?
  • What is the relationship between the French language, Francophones, and Loran?
  • How would you describe the purpose of an alumni hub?
  • Why did you decide to work for Loran?
  • How do you navigate transitions in your life?
  • What does alumni stewardship of the Foundation mean to you?

What feelings came up for me?

I’m doing my best to notice how my feelings and emotions influence my actions and decisions at work. This month, my process for noticing these things was pretty inelegant (I looked at a “feelings wheel” while I reflected on the month and wrote down the words that I connected with). I’m going to refine this going forward, but for now I’ll just include the words. If you’d like to know anything about my experience of these feelings send me an email or give me a call and I’ll be happy to share.

  • Inspired
  • Embarrassed
  • Curious
  • Respected
  • Valued
  • Hopeful
  • Hesitant
  • Nervous
  • Rushed
  • Tired
  • Trusting
  • Insecure

What trends am I noticing around the network of Loran Scholars?

Transitions: Many in-stream and alumni scholars are experiencing or expecting a transition of some kind. The most obvious group of scholars experiencing transition is the fourth year group. They are preparing to leave their undergraduate experience for the next stage of life. At this year’s Scholars’ Forum (held at Nationals each year) David-Martin Milot (‘07), Melinda Jacobs (‘08), An Tran (‘08), and I participated in a panel discussion about our own experiences with transitions. I noticed how personal and professional transitions inform each other and how profoundly the insights from one sphere applied to the other. Many scholars expect, welcome, and encourage transitions as a sign of a life of meaningful evolution and growth.

Pursuit of Balance: Many scholars that I spoke to discussed an openness to challenge and a willingness to push the boundaries, however, many of these same people acknowledged that one of the greatest challenges of all is to accept calm, stability, and balance as conditions of equal importance. I notice many scholars engaging in an internal back-and-forth as they try to find the right mix of challenge and comfort in their lives.

Connection + Engagement: I’m likely projecting some of this because it’s what I’m thinking about, but at least part of this is an organic trend. I had many discussions about the importance of scholar-to-scholar connection and scholar-to-Loran engagement. This isn’t a binary, perhaps more like a Venn diagram, but it is interesting to note the differences and similarities. I had lots of conversations about how to increase scholar engagement with the work of the Foundation as it exists today (i.e. selections, mentoring, summer coaching, etc.) and also many about how to increase connection between scholars. It excites me to know that there is a desire for both to grow.

Reflection: People are asking really powerful questions about life and the world around them. Amid the very full lives that scholars are living, many are striving to maintain time to reflect (sometimes also to agonize and overthink) on big questions of purpose and happiness.

Family: Many scholars are experiencing growth and change in their family lives. Scholars are engaging deeply as parents, caregivers, and partners. There is joy, growth, and challenge in these roles.

Are there any clear next actions that I can implement in my role?

  • Make contact with the Hub Coordinators that I haven’t yet spoken with.
  • Develop a process for tracking interactions across the alumni network.
  • Create an evaluation framework to guide the development of the alumni network.
  • Research online platforms that could support alumni-to-alumni connection.

– Adam Fearnall (’08)