My first boss, my friend, and a Real Wonder Woman
In 1999, after I finished my Master’s degree, I spent six months in a frustrating and unsuccessful search for a job that would fit my skills and ambitions. Finally, I decided to give it a rest and give my perfect job time and opportunity to find me, while I do some traveling. And it did. On my birthday, I received Sandra Melone’s interview email invite, while en route to Colombia. For me that was a sign, I just didn’t know how profound a shift it was going to bring to my life. And that’s how Sandra and I first met – at my first work interview for the Search for Common Ground in Brussels.
Search for Common Ground (SFCG) was my first workplace and indeed an amazing way to start my professional career. For the first time, I felt I found a home where my language skills could be combined and be useful and where I didn’t need to choose or justify my cultural and national identity. I was hired to work as the Middle East Program Coordinator, supporting SFCG’s Middle East program that aimed to bring together Arabs and Jews to understand their differences and work on joint projects.
I think I can safely say that – to a large extent – who I am today as a professional is thanks to Sandra. She taught me how to network, lobby, advocate, connect people, how to fundraise, but most importantly, she guided and supported me through the seven years of my work at SFCG. She gave me a lot of creative freedom within the workplace, from one position to another. I always felt loved and supported by Sandra. She provided a nurturing presence in crucial moments of growth and at each crossroad, and facilitated fluidity of constant change within the stability of staying in the same organization.
Sandra inspires me with her warmth and a deep care and concern for people. She is an amazing friend. She never forgets a birthday or any important date and she is always present when you need her: connecting the dots, connecting people across countries, continents and personality types.
I love you, Sandrita!
To know more about SFCG and the amazing work they do in the world, check http://www.sfcg.org.