Monday, December 7, 2009

Women Leaders dialogue

The last presentation of the day for me was "Personal and Professional Journeys of Women Leaders: a Worldwide Dialogue" by Dr. Linda Lyman of Illinois State University. She highlighted the stories of women in education who participated in the 2007 Rome conference: 'Sharing the Spirit, Fanning the Flame: Women Leading Education Across the Continents'. Then we broke into groups of 5-6 and talked about how the themes - scholarhip, activism, introspection and mentoring within our educational, career and spiritual lives - related to our own experience.

Linda_Lyman.jpg My group was particular rewarding because of the presence of Jan Chaffee who, with her husband Paul, runs the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. Hearing Jan's stories and getting to know her better was a wonderful opportunity. I have always admired her warmth and competence. Also in our group was a young woman from Saudi Arabia who has faced challenges in getting an education. She had only gotten a batchelor's degree when a university opened in Bahrain because in Saudi Arabia there were only teacher colleges or nursing schools for women and she wasn't drawn to those professions. At this point she has a bs in information science, a masters in human resources and a masters in public administration and she is going to start a doctorate soon. Another woman in our group had faced both racial and gender discrimination and lived through both the civil rights and women's movement. She has also survived a rare and virulent form of breast cancer. So many stories!

Dr. Lyman offered a number of quotes in her presentation, I especially liked this one: "To have a firm persuasion, to set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consumation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task." (David White, 2001, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity, NY: Riverhead Books)

Rowan Fairgrove
National Interfaith Representative

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