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"Be Proactive, Apply for Scholarships"

by Mila Ramos

The author of this post wrote about her experience with "Thinking Outside the Borders" upon my invitation. I hope her story will inspire others to think outside Philippine borders.
As early as the first week of October, I got a message from the IFLA listserv regarding this Leadership Program (Thinking Outside the Borders). The deadline for application was Nov. 15 yet, so I didn’t prepare an application right away. I was not so keen on applying, as normally these grant providers think that IRRI, being an international organization, is not a qualified beneficiary. But after a week and receiving another reminder, I said why not? I won’t lose anything in applying.

So on October 16, I requested my immediate boss, Dr. William Padolina (Deputy Director General) and Dr. John Bennett (Deputy Head and Senior Molecular Biologist of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division and a frequent Library user) to write letters of support containing comments on my leadership abilities and achievements. So, these two wrote beautiful letters for me. In addition to these, the other requirements that I submitted were:
  1. a cover letter and brief resume summarizing professional experience, activities, publications, education, participation in leadership programs, international experience and contact info.
  2. an essay of 500 words or less describing why I considered myself a suitable candidate for the program and how it will help in the achievement of professional goals, benefit the home institution, and contribute to the development of libraries.
  3. a second essay of 500 words or less describing achievements, experience in working with teams, experience training other librarians, future aspirations, and interest in international library issues.
After finishing with the writing and receiving the two letters of support, I sent the application package by mail and by email on October 27. It is important that the checklist be followed completely and that the application reaches the organizers in time.

So, with Lady Luck on my side, I received the good news last Nov. 28, much earlier than the scheduled announcement of the awards. It is good that I hold a 10-year, multiple-entry visa to the US.

The IFLA listserv is a good source of information regarding conferences for library and information professionals.

My advice to other librarians: be proactive, apply for scholarships, travel grants, join international discussion groups, whenever the opportunity opens. International conference presenters are normally given free registration, sometimes free airfare. Last December, Emerald Laxamana and I attended a meeting and presented a paper at the Hong Kong Innovative Users Group and we did not pay any registration fee. We enjoyed privileges like the conference kit, T-shirt, snacks and lunches, free transportation from the hotel, giveaways from sponsors, and a free dinner. This is another venue that is open to us.

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