One of my expat friends recently moved back to the U.S. to an area she has never lived in before.
When we spoke recently she shared how hard it is to develop friendships with people in the area.
When she is out walking and greets her neighbors, they look at her like she is from another planet.
When she meets people at her children’s schools and they learn that she was recently living overseas the conversation ends quickly.
My husband and I are preparing for an extended vacation and made a quick trip to the store to pick up a few things for the trip and a few basics for the remainder of the week we are here.
We were barely in the store when the call to prayer sounded. (Which means that for the next 30 minutes we are free to wander around the store, but we can’t receive any assistance from the staff or checkout.)
After gathering all that we needed we joined a group of families in a semi-circle around a produce weighing station, which was already surrounded and now three layers deep.
As a western woman, I still struggle to understand the rules of engagement in these settings. (Whatever you do -don’t look the men in the eye and don’t smile at them. And although the women may make brief eye contact and are gracious, they don’t always speak the same language.)
So as I looked for a place to focus, a little girl with enormous brown eyes and tiny pigtails spotted my husband and I. (She reminded me of Boo from Disney’s Monster’s Inc. movie.)
Since our return home from Saudi Arabia, (A place I once feared and had zero desire to move to.) I have been facilitating a series of workshops for students – sharing what day-to-day life was like while emphasizing critical life, leadership and people skills that they will need throughout their lives.
In each workshop students are given a visual of a natural process that will happen the rest of their lives – as they decide if they have the courage to leave their comfort zones or the grit to survive when life hands them circumstances they can’t control.
Some of the questions I’ve been asked about Saudi are worth sharing:
What was the best part?
- Living in an International Compound: Sharing life, friendship, and food with people from more than 50 nations and learning from them.
- Riding motorcycle with men and women from all over the world and getting to experience parts of Saudi that many expats don’t get to enjoy. (Yes – My motorcycle jacket had ½ of an abaya attached to it and could be rolled up when I was on the bike and rolled down when I was off the bike. Allowing me to be respectful and safe while enjoying time on the bike with my husband.)
- Vacationing in 11 countries besides Saudi and Bahrain in the 4 years we were there.
What was the hardest thing for you?
We’ve been back in the U.S. for nearly 6 weeks. Watching the divide we witnessed across the ocean. Aching as it appears to be growing deeper and wider.
I know I’m not alone in my concern for our country or in my desire to be a part of the solution. Several of my leadership connections have been sharing both struggles and wisdom in their blogs.
Alli Polin, Erin Schreyer, Steve Keating and Jesse Lyn Stoner have each written important articles to help us build bridges across that divide.
- Each of the image quotes below highlight something from their articles that I found especially powerful.
- Each of their original articles are linked after each image through their name.
If you are struggling with the current state of our union – I encourage you to:
- Read each one
- Watch the Conversation Safari video at the end of this post
And then make strategic choices to be the change you want to see
Our world needs people who can lead positive change!
It requires unshakable vision, grit and character. Recently I’ve been watching a story develop in the U.S. that is worth studying – Even if you don’t live there.
For those that aren’t aware of this story, this is a quick look at the facts:
Colin Kapernick is a professional football player that recently decided to exercise some of the freedom our country grants everyone.
He decided to stay seated during our national anthem, as the rest of the stadium stood and honored our flag and our country.
Colin says he is protesting because, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
His decision created a lot of heated debate with some people criticizing his patriotism, some people defending his right to protest and others applauding his reason for protesting.
It did not take long to discover that Colin chose to wear socks with pictures of pigs in police uniforms during practice, which caused more debate.
A short time later he met with a Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret Soldier and professional football player with his own passion for freeing the oppressed. Their conversation resulted in Colin’s decision to kneel; instead of sitting the next time the National Anthem was played.
Colin has also indicated that he will donate $1 Million to help those affected by police injustices.
Lessons for Change Leaders: