Post submitted by Sidita Zaja, executive director of United Pro LGBT and a former HRC Global Fellow
Being a Global Fellow at the Human Rights Campaign was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am deeply grateful to have been chosen for this opportunity. I came to HRC this past autumn from Albania where I am the executive director of an LGBTQ organization, United Pro LGBT, to learn and share lessons and stories with HRC.
Since returning home, I have missed my days in Washington, D.C., where I had the chance to plan for continued work for Albania’s LGBTQ community in partnership with HRC.
Already, I miss my morning custom of meeting with the HRC Global team over coffee, cementing details for meetings and collaborations with other LGBTQ advocates, researchers, government officials and others in D.C.
My time at HRC will forever be in my memory. Now that I am back in Albania, I am working to integrate the many lessons learned into my work.
One of the greatest opportunities I had at HRC was to expand my network and meet amazing people with inspirational stories.
As an activist, it is so important to be inspired. Everyone I met had a story.
It is from these stories that I draw the deep lessons and feelings that form my inspiration. Yet, I had to take the time to reflect in order to understand these lessons and feelings. My time at HRC gave me that opportunity.
One of the most inspiring moments as a Global Fellow came when I got to meet with Alba Reyes, one of HRC’s 2018 Global Innovators. She works in support of suicide prevention and anti-bullying measures in Colombia in the name of her son, who died by suicide at the age of 16. Reyes touched me with her loving story and inspired me to see the strength that can come through great loss and pain. The way in which she has channeled this grief into improving other people’s lived realities moved me.
It is stories like Reyes’ and many others’ that push me to do the work that I do in Albania.
I am very thankful to HRC for having selected me for this opportunity. I hope to see many others apply to be an HRC Global Fellow. It is important for advocates like me to have this chance to learn, connect, grow, share stories and become stronger advocates of equality.