The 2017 CIES (Center for International and European Studies) International Neighborhood Symposium was an inspiration. Thank you all for refueling my passion for international development. The magical combination created by the leadership team, participants and city would have made The Great Houdini jealous. We changed our lives by living in the moment. Subliminal silence can only fill the void of astonishment. Change is a captivating mystery which has the capacity to fuel us all.
In Business school my professor taught us to look for golden nuggets of wisdom throughout life. He wanted us to save as many as possible. Then, we would truly be filled with riches. A few nuggets where found in the halls of the Londonskaya Hotel. Not one more important that the one presented to me by Ahmet Naguib (taking the selfie). He taught us that lasting change is created through the spiritual transformation of a situation. Sustainability is impossible without tapping into the core of change by inspiring the community to literally feel the change within oneself. Other forms of development run the risk perpetuating a need for change in that area.
In the breakout sessions participants were placed into four teams. Each team was tasked with coming up with five ideas. These twenty ideas were later voted on by the entire group. After which, each participant was given the opportunity to choose which idea they liked the most. Then, the real fun started (Project Design). The second golden nugget I took away from Odessa came shortly after our team presented our Project Plan to the room. A great man by the name Serdar Dinler (Man sitting in the background with blue shirt) told us our “Why” statement was too negative. Earlier during his panel discussion he taught us how important a “Why” statement can be to a project’s success. We presented every reason for our project in a negative light, but a successful project starts with a “positive why” (Or, W+).
It would not be right for me to write this without mentioning the strong Ukrainian presence in the room. Throughout the first few days of panel discussions I wanted one question answered. How can get the attention of the older Ukrainian generation? I asked this question to two prominent Ukrainians. One gave me a direct one word answer, economy. This took me back to the Clinton glory days and struck a chord in me because I forgot my title, Community Economic Development Volunteer. I have been labeled myself a community developer for too long and need to refocus myself on Peace Corps vision. I will challenge myself to focus more on this vision throughout the last year of my service.
Symposiums are a lot like summer camps for adults. Last week we made connections with people from across the world. That will last forever and is very unique. I am filled with inspiration and look forward to focusing on the development of my Ukrainian community. Thank you to everyone who made last week’s event a possibility. You are proven Changemakers.
*These are the thoughts of Richard J. Roman and are not affiliated with the Peace Corps or its affiliates.