Who is Away 2 Be anyway?

A few months ago I sat down with a friend in Nicaragua after a morning of surfing and yoga. She asked me, “What is behind the name Away 2 Be, anyway?” To her chagrin and that of many students from teaching days past, I responded, “What do you think?” Our friends chimed in with their opinions and mentioned the not-so-subtle double entendre. “Yes”, I said, “Away 2 Be is all of that”. And again, I repeated one of my ubiquitous teaching quotes and said, “There is no wrong answer. Away 2 Be is whatever you want it ‘2 Be'”.

Let’s look at is this way: When we are “away” from what we know, when we step “away” from our comfort zone and shift our perspective, we are able “2 Be” more authentic, more observant, more aware.

The number “2” reminds us that we are always connected. Never alone. That there is more than one.

We might look at the name Away 2 Be and recognize that connecting with ourselves and with each other allows us to move from point “A” to point “B” and connect with the world.

By providing and facilitating meaningful personal, local and global experiences through yoga, consulting and international travel, our hope is that everyone finds “a way to be” that is genuine, authentic and purposeful. We focus on people and relationships before anything else.

It is then that we will be able to make positive changes in this world. So whatever the name, whatever your practice or however you choose “2 Be”, let it be authentic. Let it be true. Let your story guide you. And let us know if we can join you!

 

Let’s do some good!

So this is how my life works:

I am loved. I am supported. I care more than I can handle, about the world, about it’s people. And I wander to places without a plan. I show up. I do my best to listen. I try to learn from instead of do for and I think that very intention is the reason I have wound up with a network of good people I consider my soul-friends around the world.

And sometimes I feel that I’ve been connected to certain people long before we have met. Recently this very sentiment occurred when I met with George. We sat down for a coffee in Quito and within minutes realized we had mutual friends in both Peru and the United States. In fact, George’s godson is my friend’s nephew! (The term “serendipity” has started to lose poignancy in my life because of its consistent presence.)

As we talked, George’s eyes welled up, not because of our connection, but because of his connection with friends and fellow citizens of Ecuador who tragically lost their homes due to the 7.8 earthquake on April 16th, 2016. George described his dear friends who have decided to cut down their own bamboo to build houses for those suffering. To date, the Caemba Casitas project has constructed 122 houses and 3 children’s centers serving hundreds of Ecuadorians. George and his friends have spent hours, days and weeks constructing these homes.

Those of you who know me know I believe in accompaniment over service, in relationships before help. Yet in times in which basic needs aren’t being met, when families are struggling to survive due to circumstances beyond their control, our duty is most certainly to be of service. We are all one. We must serve our brothers and sisters in need.

Here are a few ways you can help:

May your journey be meaningful. May you connect in meaningful ways with those you know and those you don’t. May you recognize all of the good in the world.

Susan

Founder, Away 2 Be

The perfect way to honor mothers.

This year.  What a year!  Amidst life, loss, transition and wander, a few things remain constant:

Love.
Hope.
Change.

As I pause to write, I think of another constant in the lives of many: The Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman.  The Casa Materna is one of the primary reasons Away 2 Be came to be.  It embodies the model we believe in: accompaniment.  The Casa Materna is a steadfast haven for the women of Nicaragua. Each day, expectant mothers are welcomed through the doors of the Casa to ensure the safe birth of their children. Each day the staff care for and walk with the women as they prepare for motherhood.

The Casa Materna and the staff love as a nurturing mother loves.

Every May I reach out those I know, in solidarity with the Casa Materna, to reflect upon the Casa’s impact, but this year is different!  2016 marks our 25th anniversary, Kitty Madden’s 75th birthday, and (wow), even I will be 35!  In 25 years, the Casa Materna has welcomed over 17,000 women and has been integral in drastically reducing the maternal mortality rate in Nicaragua.

The Casa Materna gives us hope for a better world.

To celebrate this remarkable anniversary and Mother’s Day, we invite you to give an alternative Mother’s Day gift to the mothers in your life! Your thoughts and prayers are enough.  Your compassion is enough.  Your commitment to “do good” is enough.  If you are able to donate, that too, will be enough.  This year, we are committed to raising $12,000 more than last year to compensate for an absence of funds as our supporters in Switzerland focus on the refugee situation at home.  Consider $2.50, $25 or $250 in honor of 25 years of dedication to reducing maternal mortality!

The Casa Materna is continuously evolving.

Recently, a friend said to me, “the only way to truly express gratitude is to keep doing the work”. We will strive to do just that with Away 2 Be.  Please reach out if you or someone you know would benefit from a visit to the Casa Materna.  Being with the women and staff of the Casa is an unrivaled, life-altering experience and one that will inevitably remind you there is good in the world.

We are grateful for your constant presence with us.  May we continue to love.  May we continue to hope.  May we continue to evolve as we walk with each other on this journey.

Stay tuned for more updates and photos from Away 2 Be.  (Just a hint: This message is coming to you from Ecuador!)

Happy Mother’s Day!

Susan Lambert
Founder – Away 2 Be
Liaison – La Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman

 

Why am I here?

In consulting sessions or on programs with groups abroad, the first question we usually ponder together is “Why are we here?” It’s a question many of us ask when in new scenarios, when humbled by a mountain top, or in those moments of humility so expansive that our eyes begin to weep. I asked this question of myself recently, before formally answering in public. To better understand what my own response would be, I sat on a beautiful terrace as the sun was rising in the East and setting in the West and the following is what seeped out of my pen:

 

Why am I here?

Hope.

That the world will be different

because I’ve seen a different world.

I’ve seen a world in which smiles supersede greed

laughter resonates beyond tears

faith smolders fear

and ubuntu prevails over all.

I’ve seen this world and who am I to keep it for myself?

It has become a duty to share

what I know

who I know

where I know.

To allow others

to see beauty in themselves

exceptional in the mundane

compassion within stories.

I see a utopic world perhaps, but

I choose it.

I choose this version of vision

over peril and violence

over unmistakably ignorant rhetoric.

I choose to share what I’ve always seen

what I am a part of

and so are you.

 

 

 

Leadership. How to.

“Leadership” has become a word whose frequency buzzes to the point of not being able to hear the word at all. Close seconds in our world of oft-used, sometimes-fulfilled buzzwords in global education, travel and group facilitation are “design thinking”, “paradigm shifting” “innovation” and “sustainability”. Up and coming words like “accompaniment” and “meaningful” will soon take the place of “service” and “empowerment”. Words are simply that. They convey messages to make the non-tangible tangible. And as we attempt to discover the newest and greatest and most grandiloquent means of expression, it is important to instate action that can defend the words we try to embody.

On voyages to other lands and in classrooms, schools and businesses, I have done my best to “facilitate” as opposed to “teach”, to be humble enough to invite varying opinions and perspectives in order for our group or team to create the best possible experience or solution. It is only when we can “walk the talk” that we will be able to become true leaders, people that are willing to see our own strengths and be vulnerable enough to recognize when others can compensate for our limitations. We all have talents that deserve to shine and if we try to “go it alone”, our talents are easily masked by the minutiae of where we don’t excel.

Below is a leadership tool you are welcome to adopt. In the classroom and in the world, I have used this tool, or some variation of it, to elicit accountability and group buy-in to our process, to allow me to step back and others to step forward. Each day, there is an individual or team that is responsible for different aspects of our experience. The below list was created with student travel in mind, but can certainly be adapted to any team scenario. Use it in your classroom, your home, your office, or on your next global adventure to enhance empathy, collaboration and effective leadership.

Use this tool and avoid the urge to uphold the popular terminology that will forever change. Your actions are what will remain in-style. By facilitating true leadership, the positive results on our world will be permanent.

 

Leader(s) of the Day Responsibilities:

Daily Schedule

  • At the beginning of the day, display the daily schedule, goals and activities and review with the group

Group activity

  • (At the beginning of the day and when needed)

Choose a ‘word of the day’

  • This word can be intention-setting or something helpful in the host community or new setting

Choose a ‘question of the day’

  • Choose a question that will elicit thought and can be referred at any time, particularly when reflecting

Group check-in

  • How is everyone doing?
  • Hold up fingers 1-5. If you are 1-3, look to 4-5 to uplift you and vice versa
  • Thumbs-up scale for good, somewhere in the middle for not so good, down for not well

Prepare

  • Review daily activities, what could happen and how to be prepared for any potential situation
  • Make sure everyone has what they need for the day’s activities

Time keeper

  • Help to keep us on time and round up the group when its time to go

Thank and greet whomever is hosting us

  • We often have to “say words” when we arrive and depart any given place. This is a great chance to practice speaking in front of a group and speaking from the heart

Help to organize/clean

Make sure everyone in the group is present, on time and healthy!

Sweep

  • Check the premises of wherever we are to be sure we have everything/all trash is picked up, etc.

Write blog

Lead Closing activity

  • Choose next day’s leaders
  • Answer ‘Question of the Day’

 

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