I flew out to Seattle, WA on Monday, to attend the second of three FCLP meet ups, sponsored by Facebook. In all honesty, I didn’t want to leave home. I think all the travel at the end of last year caused a case of burn out. But I was excited to reconnect with the other North America Fellows, and especially excited to see some unexpected attendees: several Fellows from the Asia Pacific group were going to be in attendance.
I worked the entire flight out there, trying to organize our Leadership Academy training sessions and support material. Again, in all honesty, if I had realized how grueling the training schedule was, I probably would have spaced it out more. My plan includes a 14 week training course for anyone who wanted to lead, in any capacity, for MMN. But that is just step ONE!! It is exciting to see this all come together, to see mamas who I KNEW could and should lead, say they WOULD lead. Words like “Life changing, empowered, courage” have been said about this training. So exciting…for MMN…for our members…for the training team.
So there I was, in Seattle, rooming with a woman who I’d admired since she explained how to pronounce her name “Deran, like Duran, Duran” We talked LONNNG into the night, candidly and enthusiastically. We laughed, we cried, and we realized there were many similarities to our life stories. She’s an amazing woman, Air Force veteran, single mom and leader of Black Therapists Rock. She’s doing amazing work in her field and it is my honor to call her friend.
We had all the next afternoon to shop, hang out and spend time together.
Although the trainings began, the fun really didn’t end. Content DENSE workshops on corporate partnerships, fundraising, media relations as well as deep dives into products such as Facebook tools and Instagram were SUPER helpful. One of my favorite parts was our “You Pitch It” 2 minute overviews of each person’s project. It was great to hear what others were doing and how we could help, and the occasional tech failure offered great moments of laughter.
This group of people are working on amazing AMAZING missions across the world. And the youth fellows….our world is going to be JUST FINE with young people like this in it. I really believe that.
Before flying home, we all shared an afternoon at the Pike Street Market, plans to get an Air BnB and stay longer at our final Meet up, and more tater tots. Leaving each other, as we all trickled out to grab our flights (some a one hour flight, some 36 hours of travel before they would be home), many tears were shed. We shared so much in 3 short days (and for some, a couple bonus days). What began as a group of 115 in September, with hardly any of us even AWARE of each other, has become a family. When someone talks about India, Bahrain, Pakistan, Bangladesh; or Muslim, nursing moms, single moms, heroin addicts in recovery; when a shooting on the South Side, or eating disorders, Parkland survivors or economic inequity is is discussed, I hold a name in my heart. Discussing WHY it matters to gather unlikely partners, complete strangers and those with opposing political/religious/lifestyle views: I can tell you for sure. It matters. Because under all those differences that seem like a thing, we are all human beings with the same desires: love, safety, acceptance and belonging.
We can all offer that piece…stop and talk to someone. Listen to their story and ask questions. Questions of curiosity and concern. Give the gift of time to a lonely neighbor, a veteran sitting alone, or a mama who needs a little love. Maybe a card, or a video conference if you can’t do it in person. It sounds so simplistic, but I promise you, you can change the world…one person at a time…one conversation at a time. Are you with me?