Yale World Fellows:
wayfinding in times of upheaval
Every year, Yale’s International Leadership Center brings together the World Fellows, a group of extraordinary leaders from every continent to explore how to address the most acute and complex challenges facing the world today.
In October 2022, New Constellations partnered with creative innovator, cultural entrepreneur and filmmaker Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir to design a bespoke journey for the 2022 World Fellows. During a residential retreat surrounded by the magical autumn colours of Sheffield Massachusetts, we explored how to connect with our InnSæi, what it means to be a transformational leader in times of radical uncertainty, and what stars or principles we can navigate by to build systems of human and planetary flourishing.
Made by Jo Barratt with Gemma Mortensen, Iris Andrews, Lily Piachaud and Hadeel Elshak.
We are grateful to Emma Sky and the team at Yale, and the amazing group of 2022 World Fellows who joined us for this journey: Andrei Kureichik (Belarus), Babatunde Omilola (Nigeria), Belva Devara (Indonesia), Fakhar Durrani (Pakistan), Huong Dang (Vietnam), Jad Maalouf (Lebanon), Kirsten Rulf (Germany), Kyriacos Koupparis (Cyprus), Manasi Subramaniam (India), Martin Inthamoussú (Uruguay), Minami Tsubouchi (Japan), Rufaro Mudimu (South Africa), Sahar Albazar (Egypt), Solangel Fernández (Peru), Vera D. Kwakofi (UK), Zhao Zhong (China).
Everything seemed to be uncertain and sometimes it could be unbearable.
We face pandemics, economic struggles, crises, conflicts, wars.
I feel like the world is really shaking around me in on so many different levels and seemingly in a country that is so stable like Germany. I can see it in my own family because there was a lot of, um, traditional fruit picking, you know, stocking up for the winter, like on fresh vegetables and fruit that we picked from, uh, places around us. That’s no longer possible because it’s become so dry.
I think for me, the sense of upheaval and the uncertainty, uh, began for me probably around 2015, 2016 with the Brexit vote in the uk and after that, the US elections,
The overlapping global crisis, uh, what I call the, uh, COVID19 Pandemic Conflict and climate change crisis.
I still remember a time when I had to basically call for ambulance every single night for our staff and their families trying to secure oxygen tanks and concentrators trying to find hospital beds. Very difficult and I think it still haunts me today as I remembered their faces, their laughters and their voice.
In my country, the system I am part of, there is political turmoil and corruption. I see families breaking apart for economic issues, others trying to immigrate, searching for better opportunities. Others with mental health problems due to the constant anxiety and stress they have.
Between covid and climate change, the two big Cs, there is a lot that feels less permanent than it used to.
Because I work in a sector that uncertainty has always been the rule We grew up knowing that things can change from one day to the other, that one day you can have a big play you are producing, it’s gonna be successful. You cannot see if there’s people who are gonna come. You can work for that, but you cannot foresee it.
To be honest, I don’t like uncertainty and I don’t like not knowing what I want to do next. Like it stresses on my nerves, it paralyze me.
Uh, I thought, uh, as a journalist I could bring changes in this society, but at the end of the day, after these 15 years, uh, in my career, Still, I feel I haven’t achieved what, uh, for which I joined this profession after 15 years of struggle, hardship, and, I have faced many threats. It’s physical or mental threats as well. And yeah, it really makes me think whether I should remain part of this system or I should quit this profession and do something else, which is more positive or which is make me contribute more towards the society. But still, maybe I’m, I’m just looking for the answers.
Faith is a part because it gives meaning to life, or it allows me to understand and accept more also the difficulties that, uh, we might be going through and understand that even out of these, there is a purpose and we can turn difficulty or pain into something positive in the end if we know how to deal with it.
People are trying to force certainty, so trying to make sure that everything is a hundred percent correct versus giving some leeway or understanding that sometimes, you know, perfect can be the enemy of good, and that if things are not a hundred percent then it’s not good enough, but sometimes good enough is necessary to engage with.
I write a diary so I could reflect on the things that is happening around myself, the things that I can’t do and the things that I can do.
I think my empathetic side was an overdrive, and so I switched a lot to fictionalised content. I watched a lot of TV shows, telenovelas, Turkish dramas. Cause I think these societies felt removed from mine and it allowed me to immerse myself in the fiction of it because these weren’t societies that I knew enough about for it to feel real.
I am trying not to, not to be bourgeois, to be a human.
I try and understand what is happening in the world, and then I teach. If you really want to learn something, then teaching it is a good way. It helps me understand the forces that are at play.
I will open my mind, explain my horizons, connect with partners from different backgrounds and work with partners from different backgrounds and try different approaches. To solve my concerns,
I try to let the universe guide me through life brainstorming with fellows, scholars, exceptional leaders, and also community builders to find common solutions to the global. Challenges and uncertainties that we face in the world.
I feel I need a net. Building a community has become the most important thing for me lately.
I try to remind myself that from a historical perspective, humanity has come a long way. We have made enormous progress. I realise I have a very finite time on this planet, and so I try to just focus on doing what I can.
I think there is something good in the reaction to uncertainty. It makes us think carefully. Our decisions made me come to Yale, to find out which is the best next step in my life.
We are what we are now cuz of our childhood. Cause we growing. Like a tree. We are trying to make our own life flourishing.
When I think about the past and how my grandparents lived, they lived in the rhythm of nature and with what nature produced, that’s how they lived, and they shared it with their community. Like there wasn’t a single thing that they just kept for themselves.
I still remember my grandmother have this wisdom and having solutions that were very open minded and that were connected to nature, were connected to brotherhood, sisterhood, were connected to bonding with our communities,
Not letting that past define our future, but let it be a foundation to changing it into the most amazing one we can make together.
We clearly need more understanding, more listening, more empathy. Another way, which is not the way I think, not the way you think, but the way we think.
Leaving certain things behind. The feeling that we are safe in the boat that we are on will be the most important element.
Rock button means that there’s no lower to go, and so you can just jump up and. dig in.
I think that, uh, common sense of humanity, however dark things I’ve gotten are still very much alive and however dark it is, there’s always a chink of light shining from somewhere.
We need to turn away from the sense that we are separate from what is around us, that we can somehow destroy and plunder what is keeping us alive
Our community, our common humanity, our interconnectedness. The sense that we only have one planet
having more than what we can hold in. our twohands will not lead to further happiness.
I think we need to move away from fear, from conformity, from selfishness and indifference.
Today, we need to turn away from materialism, from greed, from always thinking about ourselves, about wanting more.
I think we need to keep in sights that there is so much positive in humanity when we decide to stay together and to work with each other and celebrate difference.
What we need to keep in our sights are human ingenuity and innovation, how we have been able to come up with science and technology to make the impossible possible.
When obsolescence dies, innovation will arise. Without creativity, we will be forever repeating the same patterns.
My stars are to be amazed with the beauty of living things and seek to understand them, to know that there is no innovation and creativity without failure.
To be the guardian of my own integrity and to keep my body and brain in balance.
So I want to rediscover that sense of wonder, that curiosity that drove me from when I was really young and to ask more questions.
I’m starting to see increasing connectedness between everything. I’ve started to see world fellows as nodes, as acupuncture points as [unknown], people who are doing really important things in the world, in the right areas.
I’ve really experienced what it’s like to. In a community again and not be lonely, felt again what it means to be liked and loved and embraced for who you are. And I think if I could recreate that in my day to day environment back home, that would really be something that would make me connect, not just with other people, but also more with the world around me. And that would reallyI think help, not just myself to feel less lonely, but also, the communities around me and, and the planet just in general and society.
We need to see ourselves from a little bit outside, from the distance to understand in what point we are and what speed and what direction we have
In the path of hate silence is Deadly. We should take action to do our part to fight hate. I’m going to be more proactive about finding what I want to do. I would like to find unexplored dimensions everywhere.
I’d like to be. Diverse and generous with interpretation. I’d like to use stories to save lives. I believe curation is a type of creation. I think we should find beauty every single day. I think we should find every angle of the story, and I think we should give everyone the tools to reimagine,
To be bold, to be courageous. Not afraid to break the rules. I will live an authentic, successful, and fulfilling life with my own identity. I will tell my truth with the courageous vulnerability and commitment. I will live with passion, and be true to that passion. I will not be afraid to admit my mistake or weakness. I will not be afraid to challenge myself. I will say and do things that are outside my comfort zone, do things that scare me. I’m heading in the direction to be a bold man.