Collaborate Courageously.

This is all about redefining our roles in society and focusing on collaborating courageously.

–Dow Chemicals

And then sometimes there’s dissonance. And you know its good, because when things stay the same, when things are stagnant, growth refuses to appear.

Last week I attended the Global Engagement Forum in Washington, D.C., elbow to elbow with the likes of J.P. Morgan, Dow, Deloitte and Pepsi Co., shoulder to shoulder with NGOs, educators and non-profits. The purpose of this forum was to have conversations within the public, private and social sectors as to how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals implemented by the UN this September. The goals are a continuation and enhancement of the Millennium Development Goals instated at the turn of the century, to have been achieved by this year. (Some have been achieved. Some, not.)

It won’t surprise most of you to know that I didn’t leave the conference unnoticed. I’ve begun to realize and take ownership of the fact that my role is often to be an ally and voice for groups of people underrepresented. I spoke up for educators yearning to engage in these conversations, for the developing world, hungry to collaborate and for kids of all walks, eager to make changes in the world.

I left encouraged and frustrated. Motivated and overwhelmed. People, of all sectors and demographics are having the conversation about making this place, this world, better. That’s good. The language being used often contradicts the mentality many of us have so diligently tried to encourage. That’s tricky.

And then Paris happened. And the world noticed. The same day of the Paris attacks, November 13th, bombs exploded in Bagdhad. The day before that: Beirut. And yesterday, November 17th: Nigeria.

The world is violent. The world is dark. And the world is vibrant and alive and full of good. Let us see the recent, (and even the not-so-recent), happenings as a call to recognize the opportunity and need for peace. If we retaliate with violence, as last time and the time before that and that one time, we will not see the sustainable fruits of such efforts. Instead we will be cast, again into a cell of fear, inescapable and detrimental to future generations.  I simply will not ever conclude that violence is the answer. It is not to undermine the brave, willing, and courageous, but to uplift the voices of those I have met, those willing to build community and walk side by side to transform our current paradigm.

Last night at the Women Who Startup event I heard a young, Latina woman say that all she wanted was someone to listen to her, so that she could be herself and have the community that others are born privilege to. Can we do that for her? Can we build her a safe community in which she can thrive and grow and fulfill the passions she has?

Despite what is oft seen and heard, I happen to have a particularly optimistic disposition and decades of international experience, exposing me to the good that happens in the world every day. So what if we focused on that? What if there was a bridge, a liaison, a vehicle through which we just might be able to change our lens and shift our perspective?

The night before the Paris attacks, I signed on at 1am from DC to facilitate Taking it Global’s Education for Social Innovation course with participants in Turkey, Poland, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Romania and the Ukraine. As we discussed design thinking and paradigms to transform global education, our conversation shifted from pedagogy to reality. Our friends on the screen, on the other side of the world, are not only having conversations, but taking action to effectively communicate with refugees fleeing from Syria. They asked the questions. They shared ideas. And our time ran out. And there is so much more to do.

Know that there is good amidst the misery we may see on TV, read on Twitter and listen to on the radio. It is our choice and in fact, our duty to also engage with the benevolent. And though our society brims with fear, we must find reprieve in knowing there are individuals, communities, organizations and even giant companies that are willing to connect.

Away 2 Be is the bridge to good things, good people, good organizations all over the world. We can connect you, your family and your loved ones so that we may all see the beauty of what this world truly does posses.

What do you choose to see?  How do you collaborate courageously?

Interested in knowing more good organizations?

Here are a few of our favorites:

Be Visible

FAME Africa

Good Done Great

La Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman

Matagalpa Tours

Moving Worlds

Playing For Change

Project Explorer

Reality Tours and Travel

Tab Lab

Taking it Global

The Enough Project

The World Leadership School

True School Studios

Travel alone. It’s a party!

Traveling alone to a new destination is like arriving to a party stag…

The crux:

You knock on the door.  This act takes the most effort and commitment and energy.  To your chagrin, the door opens.

You purchase your plane ticket, click the button and feel that rush of excitement, apprehension and pride for choosing to go for it.  You show up.

The decision:

You are certain they are all staring at you.  You want to leave. To call mom.  But for some reason you stay.  You realize you’ll never meet these people for the first time ever again. 

You will never see this place for the first time ever again. You know there is potential and opportunity awaiting you.  You know there is more to learn and discover and apprehend.  You start walking.

The action:

You pour a drink.  You meet others pouring drinks.  You find the snacks.  You meet others masticating empathetically. 

You walk to the nearest cafe, wishing that giant appendage on your back wasn’t bright yellow with the words “North Face” splayed across it zippers.  You sit and try your hand at the few coin phrases you learned on the plane.  

They laugh at you.  With you.

The transition:

You pretend with all of your might that you’re “in”, despite your own expertise in knowing you’re all playing the same game.  You start to acclimate.  The portal you entered through seems to change slowly, like a polaroid appearing more clearly.  You begin to see anew and remember first impressions only happen once and that is all and everything they are.  The initial angst you felt already seems like a foreign land.

When you finally kiss the host adieu, when you click that button again, you realize you’d rather not leave.  You’d rather stay.  To learn. To engage. To change and shift and see it all for the first time.  But you can’t.  Your time has arrived.  

You take a picture.  You press the shutter.  You hold on to what you can, and know, intrinsically, that all of it will not last forever.  But you can be sure your life has changed.  You are a better version of you.

So do it.  Go for it.  You will grow and learn and make mistakes.   And if you want support and suggestions and encouragement, we’re here for you.  Heck, we can even plan your adventure for you and connect you with some of the most wonderful people and places in the world.

You have our permission.  Now go!