Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with parents and students from the Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island who are interested in visiting India with The World Leadership School. The extemporaneous words I shared convey the purpose of everything I do as an individual, with companies such as The World Leadership School and Taking it Global and with Away 2 Be.
Namaste! Thank you for inviting me into your school and into your community. It is an honor to be here and to be welcomed. There is a question we often ask the students on programs, and now I will ask you: Why are you here? I invite you to think about that for a few moments. (Silence)
I am here because about eight years ago I went to Nicaragua. In Nicaragua I worked with the Casa Materna, a home for at risk, pregnant women striving to reduce the maternal mortality rate in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua. In 24 years, over 17,000 mothers have walked through the door of the Casa to ensure a safe birth for their newborns and for themselves.
At the Casa we often walk with the women in the morning. We walk up a rocky hill and share our stories with one another. We ask questions. We engage. We breathe and stretch together and welcome all mothers around the world into our circle. Throughout my first summer in Nicaragua, I taught English to the staff of the Casa. My friends and family kept praising the “good work,” I was doing, but that didn’t resonate with me. I felt so “good” being in the presence of this welcoming community. I asked my dear friend, mentor, and co-founder of the Casa Materna, Kitty Madden, “What am I doing here?” She responded by saying, “Susan, the best thing you could ever do for us is walk with us.” This statement has become a metaphor and a philosophy for how I now choose to live my life.
The reason why I work with The World Leadership School is because they, too, believe in the philosophy of accompaniment. The World Leadership School empowers young leaders to find innovative solutions to the world’s pressing problems. We innovate and create by forming sustainable international relationships over time. In fact, it is the only way to create long-term, global change. The Lincoln School is on the precipice of a paradigm shift in global education and global citizenship because you adhere to these values as well. We are at the forefront of this transition.
I have traveled all over the world and yet each time I am away, the experience is new. I perpetually have the opportunity to see the world through fresh eyes, through the eyes of students and community members walking with one another. On behalf of World Leadership School and on behalf of global change through relationship building, thank you for your willingness to walk with the people of India.