From time to time, I feel a subtle shift happening under my feet. When it begins to make me grab on for support, I know something wonderful is about to happen. Change is in the air and it makes me feel hopeful and excited.
This is what I’m observing at the moment:
1) More people speaking out
This piece was published by students at Berkeley and my immediate impression was that I was about to get another eyeful of a load of nonsense that follows this “cutesy” trend of writing about serious subjects and then trying to give the silliness credibility with a fancy infographic. When you jump down to the comments in this piece, you’ll see that two people quickly called out the paper and the study abroad office for their concern about the decreasing importance of non-traditional locations such as the Middle East and North Africa.
Speak your truth, whether it is popular or not! Yes, this makes me smile.
A few years ago, I daydreamed about a gathering that would intentionally challenge how we explore culture in a “conference” setting and not have to charge hundreds of dollars to do so. I was frustrated with committees selecting sessions that were not innovative and felt like recycling of the same topics, over and over again. Despite having a lot of sleepless nights about whether our idea to Swarm on Culture, Identity and Perspective would actually “work” and stressing about people’s tendencies to register just prior to an early bird pricing deadline, I am relieved to say that our Swarm is not only running, but the schedule is like nothing I’ve ever seen (or imagined!) for international educators. I’m beyond excited about it and now my sleepless nights are due to excitedly imagining what it will all actually look like as it unfolds in mid-October. I’m so grateful to those who recognize the value of this new approach and who are ready to get down and dirty in their own discomfort. To be willing to do so on a Monday and Tuesday during a busy time of year at most colleges makes it even that much more exciting. (You can still register through October 5th!)
Yes, this makes me hopeful that we are more open to demanding professional development and that we can push the envelope on this topic!
3) Race is becoming topic at the water cooler (for all the wrong reasons)
This topic cannot be discussed enough. People are openly talking about race and being challenged to think beyond “the cop has rights” after a horrific series of brutal and in some cases, murderous treatment of African Americans in the US. It is beyond painful to see the reality of how our brothers and sisters are being treated. The evidence is becoming so impossible for people in power to ignore, so it HAS to be talked about. How else does one justify the brutal murder of a young man picking up a gun, used for play, on a shelf in a shop and end up being shot and killed by police with REAL guns – after countless 911 (emergency) calls stating he was pointing a gun at people in the store? The video quickly illustrates that he was doing no such thing and was on his cell phone talking to the mother of his two young children at the time he was killed.
Keep talking about race. Be outraged. March into your Human Resource office and demand a discussion about how the stereotypes of people who are the minority in our places of work. Keep this topic alive.
4) Parents questioning the value of testing in our schools
I recently spoke with a friend who has a daughter who is a musical genius. This kid is 15 and sings like a cross between Janis Joplin and Alicia Keys. Have I mentioned that she is also a budding painter, jewelry maker and loves to play in ceramics? She is developing into a modern day Renaissance Woman. Instead of her mother being completely freaked out about this country’s obsession with measuring every minute of her time at school with countless exams, her mother said to me “I just want her to get through it.” What a joy to hear! This was not a parent saying that she needed to mold her beautifully talented child into some high school robot who has straight As, takes 6 extracurricular activities and volunteers at 4 organizations before she is a senior – all so she can get “into” college. Rather, this is a mom who says “my child has passion and talent and I’m going to allow her to focus on those things instead.” Brava! (I did tell this mom a story about the very talented Antonio Ballatore, who you may know as one of the winners of Design Star on HGTV. Antonio went to my high school and while he probably didn’t rock his grades the way he rocked tight leather pants and the most kick ass mane of hair back then, he had parents who not only accepted his incredible music and artistic talents, they fully supported them. Imagine if his life’s “success” was measured by a standardized test in 10th grade?)
The take away from this conversation with a friend: Keep “beeing” you. Always. No matter what. Your success in life is NEVER in the form of a standardized test. EVER.
What signs of shifting do you see or feel happening in this world? I’d love to hear your comments below!