We ask a lot of big questions in the Bezos Scholars Program. We ask them of our Scholars; we ask them of ourselves; we ask them of our partners, notables, and friends of the program. Questions like, “What’s your big idea?” “What’s your passion?” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “How will you create a positive change that engages your community?” “Where are your work and passion leading you?”
Given the slightly existential nature of these kinds of questions, it can be challenging to feel certain that you are on the right path. So – how can you know? I’ve not yet heard it more eloquently stated than when David Brooks spoke to the 2017 Scholars in Aspen and said you will know when “your deep gladness meets one of the world’s greatest needs.”
Deep gladness. Now – this is something to consider. This moves past individual bad days, the many rejections and refusals you’ll face, and the naysayers who will never see your vision – and onto the overall experience that fills you up.
In the thirteen years of the Bezos Scholars Program, we have seen hundreds of amazing young people and their educators ask themselves, their peers, and broader communities these big questions. Each year, incredible work is done on some of the most challenging issues facing our world. We have Local Ideas Festivals that are ten years strong! We have festivals that have morphed into curriculum and live inside classrooms. We have festivals that have gone on to college along with the Scholars themselves. Truly there is no view more inspirational than the one from my desk.
As I begin my third year working with the Bezos Scholars Program, I feel the love and inspiration every day. This program is a family – once a Scholar always a Scholar – and it feels that way. Each day I arrive to work I have a handful of emails from current and alumni Scholars sharing book and movie recommendations, updating me on internships and summer travel, and it feels like family. Joining Scholars for brunch here, dinner there, and lunch in the office is one of my favorite things! It is such a privilege to work alongside such brilliant, enthusiastic minds – whether via a phone call talking through venue logistics, helping herd people into a cafeteria for a keynote speaker at a Local Ideas Festival, or doing a round of feedback on outreach materials, it is my deep gladness to encourage such inspiring work.