I try to live my life is a way that mirrors one of our mottos at Melibee Global: “Bee the change you want to see in this world.” Sometimes, that means that I have to ask for help to facilitate positive change, and this year several incredible people and organizations came running to meet the call.
Let me explain.
I live in a city (Asheville, N. Carolina) that embodies the spirit of community. People here volunteer, live their values, push local government for policies that impact the disenfranchised in a more just way. I am reminded of how important it is to give back to people in our community on a daily basis simply by living where I do.
This year was the second time that I ran an experiential conference/retreat called the Swarm on Culture, Identity, and Perspective. It is a wild diversion from the typical international education conference in that we leave our tech at the door and we go full throttle in heart driven exercises that land us square in our zone of completely and utter discomfort – where we grow exponentially. (I’m not being modest here because this is what happens per our evaulations. Participants sweat it out for the first bit to realize tremendous growth and self awareness.)
I always offer scholarships to this event to returned study abroad students and people in our community who are doing good work. This year, I asked our field to consider donating scholarships too, and many incredible organizations came through. (Read on to see the list of those who donated – their generosity does change the world for the better!)
This is just one note that I received from a scholarship recipient. She gave me permission to share it. I do so because when we give, we receive so much more than we ever could imagine. This is an important lesson to be reminded of – even when you don’t feel you have a lot to give, give anyway. What you receive in return will humble you and bring you tears (as this note did.)
I’m writing to thank you and your sponsors for your generous Melibee Swarm scholarship. I was very happy and appreciative to learn that I was selected as a recipient.
Swarm is like no conference I’ve ever attended. I expected to take a somewhat traditional approach to conferencing — the typical lectures, group exercises, etc. Boy, was I caught of guard in the greatest way imaginable!
This year’s Swarm theme focused on the family tree and elders. While we had great discussion and group interaction about the topics, I’m most thankful for the safe, sacred space that Swarm offered.
At Swarm, I was able to tap into parts of myself I’d not nurtured in a while. I connected with individuals who went from stranger to long lost sister, brother, and even grandmother in a matter of hours.I reconnected with the essence of me and gained clarity on how I want to start showing up in the world. Needless to say, this experience has been invaluable to both my personal and professional development.
As a former educator and dropout prevention program director Swarm is closely aligned to my ideals and interest in helping children become aware of their global citizenship and how their actions affect themselves and others. It also inspired me to do more work with children around generational healing.
Currently, I do program administration/development work for a local community-based agency, My Daddy Taught Me That, which serves at-risk boys in Buncombe County (N. Carolina). Learning about how to relate with people more authentically and honor my unique family tree is a lesson I will extend to the boys in our program.
By awarding me the Swarm scholarship, you afforded me the opportunity to attend a conference my organization wouldn’t have been able to sponsor financially as a startup nonprofit. Your generosity has inspired me to pay-it-forward.
I hope one day I will be able to help local professionals gain access to training and development as you have helped me. In the meantime, I’ll share the gift by expressing what I learned during Swarm in my daily interactions.