This is one of the most powerful expressions of the phrase "women hold up half the sky" that I've ever heard. Please pause to listen and to share!
And she is carrying half a truth.
Travel offers us the capacity to see things a different way, overcoming perceived limitations in our work and relationships.
Here in Oregon, forest fires have been blazing all summer. On a particularly hazy day, I smelled that rich, warm, throat-scratching scent—and instantly I was in Indonesia with a plate of nasi goreng (fried rice) on its way. We’ve all had that moment—a smell, a sound, a word transports us to another place in time.
A fascinating article came out in the Atlantic recently, by Brent Crane, entitled “For a More Creative Brain, Travel.”
It’s not too surprising that “new sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.” In essence, “psychologists and neuroscientists have begun examining more closely what many people have already learned anecdotally: that spending time abroad may have the potential to affect mental change.”
One of the benefits of our Journey to Rwanda is the opportunity to build capacity for new ideas in a short amount of time.
So often we feel stuck in problems that we just can’t seem to transform. Maybe it’s a habit that we repeat even if it is counterproductive (hello to my post-gym buttermilk donut!). Maybe there’s that One Person at work who just plain bugs you, or worse yet creates contagious negativity on your team—and it remains avoided and unresolved. On a bigger scale, why in the world are there still so few women represented in positions of authority and decision-making? I mean really, people!!! Most of us in our hearts feel that equality is essential. And yet the implementation, the steps to get there still elude us.
Human beings need to see and hear from others who have faced the same challenges and have overcome them. We need each other’s stories in order to invite our own creative solutions. And we need to hear them without tuning out or hiding in our own stuck-ness—to listen with all of our senses instead. But “engaged listening” is hard. It’s not just a switch we can turn on. And yet, when we take the leap to surround ourselves with new-ness, magic happens.
“Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” and “Cognitive flexibility is the mind’s ability to jump between different ideas, a key component of creativity.”
This is why I am so excited that on our Rwanda journey, we are creating a space for the exchange of stories between thoughtful and skilled leaders, in a completely fresh environment of sights, sounds, smells, and strangers. We’ll learn about why Rwanda is lauded as THE success story in the developing world today—and we’ll hear it directly from the people working to make it so. It’s essential that countries like the U.S. take time to examine why Rwanda has highest representation of women in government (on the planet!), or why two decades after genocide, Rwanda is a booming hub for social innovation, environmental conservation, and technology.
Companies and organizations who seek “capacity building” are usually thinking in very specific terms—e.g. growing skill sets and resources be a bigger, stronger business. But before this is possible, our brains need to be ready and open to receive those new ideas. I am convinced that the bold but simple act of removing ourselves from comfort and familiarity grows something important and rare in our abilities to perceive new information, and our own place in the world.
I see this analogy of Capacity Building in my mind’s eye in a line from a favorite poem by Richard Kenney, about the birth of his child,
“...the close cosmos / Opened that day, and a great pleat opened in my heart.”
It might look from the outside that our plates are just too full. For some, the thought of going to Rwanda—the loss that has happened there, the distance, the unknown—it seems like it could be all too much. Yet I know without a doubt that when we take the time to relate to one another through a journey experience, connecting across borders as real people, sharing our lives and our skills—a positive transformation is inevitable. A “great pleat” opens—something that was folded inside of us all along, expands.
For more information about how our Women's Leadership Journey to Rwanda can benefit your team members, board, or other group stake holders, please see the information below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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