A Formal Announcement

by Natasha Blackadar
June 17, 2013

Natasha Blackadar '15 is a Starr Fellow living in South Africa this summer working on the Mighty City Ambassadors Program.

I have failed.

Well, what is “failure,” anyway? In the conventional sense, I tried to go from Point A to Point B and somehow ended up way at Point Z. In the literal sense, I tried to leverage the connections of sport for a development NGO to design curriculum-based development projects in a rural town in South Africa, yet now suddenly find myself scrapping together last-minute positions for my team at international volunteer programs in the Western Cape.

My “venture” (was it ever really a venture to begin with?) has officially imploded, exploded, been obliterated, etc. In retrospect, it was nearly predictable, though I would have never dreamed it could actually happen. In any sense, it was completely out of my control, and the specific reasons that the Mighty City Ambassador Program is breathing its first and final breaths at the same time is neither here nor there.

My point is that I have a message to deliver, a beacon of hope for anyone who is struggling with their venture or summer project, because I am a prophet from land of the mythical, legendary Starr fellows whose ventures have Failed:

I am here to say that I am still alive even if my venture is not, and while I would not like to disclose how many anxiety attacks I’ve had this week, I am beginning to become extremely grateful for this disastrous situation.

Because I do not believe this is failure—this is a chance to rewrite my narrative. I came here for one thing, and it didn’t work. Did I expect to be reaching out to every possible connection I have in South Africa looking for anything from a couch to sleep on to a volunteer program looking for four international students last minute? No. But, I am amazed by the support and generosity from affiliates of Brown, Swearer, and Starr around the world, and I am extremely confident that my brilliant team will push through and leave this country next month having gained an exceptional amount of knowledge and experience.

This week has been the complete and utter destruction of the work I put my heart and soul into for the last year, but I am pushing myself to keep asking: what can I learn from this? So rarely does one receive the chance to completely start over from scratch. This is not my future anymore—it never really was—and I encourage everyone in this community to push past failures, big or small, and take it as an opportunity to rewrite your narrative, because sometimes these unexpected changes can reveal a new, brighter path.

** For more updates from Natasha throughout the summer, visit her blog at http://natashablackadar.wordpress.com/.