Years ago, when I began working as a consultant, I was eager to demonstrate my value at the conference tables where I sat. I wanted the people around the table to know I was engaged in their challenge and had ideas. I wanted them to know I cared. I typically demonstrated the opposite, however. I was too quick to offer solutions. I thought I knew what they needed before they even finished outlining the challenge. Every client turned into my parents/my teachers/Glady’s McElroy (the glamorous woman -mother of Brian McElroy- who babysat me during my fourth grade year). I turned into a child version of myself. “Look what I can do!”
There is a woman in Nepal who is building, what I believe to be, a replicable and truly sustainable model for schools for the very very poor. She has one operating very successfully and wants to build hundreds more throughout Nepal and India. I have been invited to come spend some time with Renu Shah Bagaria, founder of the Shikshantar Outreach Program and the Koseli school. I have been invited to sit with her, hear her stories, see the school and, working with my dear friend Jen and some videographers and photographers, see if there is some way we can help her turn this “100 school” dream of hers into a reality.
I have been waiting for an opportunity like this my whole life, I think. My need to do something of value in the world has risen to a degree in recent years that I doubt a single person in regular contact with me could fail to see the significance of this moment. To those of you who have suffered my plaintive wails for meaning…my sincere apologies. I have apparently finally reached a tipping point, where my need has met the world. When meaning sends you an engraved invitation to a party you have been pleading for your entire life, you not only go, you RSVP the minute you get it.
But nothing is ever simple, of course. Jen has told me that the pace there is much slower than I have likely ever experienced. This is my challenge going to Nepal. I am deeply emotional. I know my heart will be broken and I know I will want to “fix” everything I come into contact with. I will have to learn how to sit still. I will have to learn how to be. I will have to learn that my presence is enough for now. I will have to learn that there is so much to learn before I can really even know what the deeper challenges are.
I will be in Nepal for two weeks. Two weeks is not nearly enough time to learn a culture. It is not enough time to get past the pleasantries to authentic trust. The most I can anticipate is that we get the footage and verbiage we need to communicate sufficiently enough to magnify their really outstanding work in their community. I can only hope that we gather enough in video, pictures and story to bring life and connection between cultures so different that they are literally unimaginable to each other.
I leave Sunday morning. I will be taking you with me and I hope you will shower me with your support as you did last time. I promise to share my journey with you…internal and external.