I was recently reminded of an article I wrote in my October Newsletter and wanted to share it with you…Enjoy.
I sometimes wonder, as I’m sure you do too, what kind of impression I am leaving on someone else regardless of how long I’ve known them. Whether I’m meeting them for the first time, I run into them every once in a while at business related events, or an old friend who I’ve known for years, taking into consideration that we are always evolving and growing. For some people this can look like caring a lot about what other people think. I can see how in the past that used to be a symptom of not feeling confident with myself, but now it’s that I truly want to connect with people in the most genuine way possible and would want them to remember and appreciate something about me.
When I talk to people about my six-week trip to China in April of 2010, the feedback I commonly get is how much I light up while I do. Probably because that trip was truly life transforming and gave me so many gifts that I couldn’t foresee before going. I had my fears about going which is totally normal – about not speaking Chinese, not having ever taught at a University before, and going there by myself. And in the face of those fears, I went anyway and am so glad I did!
I am proud to say I am a founding Facilitator for a program called The World Academy for the Future of Women. You can learn more about it on my website on the Global Change page. I got to meet about 75 amazing young women attending the Sias University in Henan, China who were courageous enough to be the first members of this new organization.
Being that I didn’t speak the local language and needed time to acclimate to my surroundings of the dorm where I lived, the campus, and how to communicate with businesses and restaurants off campus, there were two students who were assigned to take care of me. All of the young women in the program gave themselves an English name since there was no way us American Facilitators could remember, let alone pronounce their Chinese names. Cathy was one of the two “handlers” as they called it, who were my go to gals and boy was I grateful. The other one was JoJo.
I have so many great stories about my time there but for now I’ll focus on Cathy. I had the pleasure and opportunity to spend a lot of time with Cathy and part of that time I got to know more about her. She shared with me about her family, where she came from, and of course about her dreams and aspirations. She was in her last year at Sias, and her dream was to be an Au Pair in the United States so she could get more experience working with kids and wanted to improve her English. She even went out into her future far enough to see her starting her own preschool for kids to teach them English and other skills she has learned abroad. Of course she knew that there would be many other things she could learn by coming here but it’s hard to determine what those things would be, just like it was for me before I went to her country.
I helped her with filling out the application for the Au Pair Agency and coached her on preparing for the interview. I could sense her doubt about the opportunity actually coming to fruition but she pursued it anyway. That was one quality I really admired about these young women, their tenacity and drive for achievement was astounding and honorable.
The day came slowly, and then quickly arrived for when it was time to leave to come home after my journey there. I had my bags packed the day before my departure date, because my van that was scheduled to take me on the forty-five minute drive to downtown Zhengzhou was leaving at 5:45am. Cathy and JoJo came to my hotel room to see me off along with a few other students in the program. They brought me breakfast and coffee to nourish myself as we all drove to the airport for my goodbye. As I checked in my luggage and walked through the security gate, I looked behind me and could see that they were still standing there waving at me goodbye. As I got on the plane, my eyes welled up with emotion in a way that I can’t even describe. Thinking back, I can see how in that moment I experienced recognition of how I was forever changed, and wondered if and when I would ever hear from or see any of these students and new friends ever again.
A few months ago, on June 23rd to be exact, I received an email from Cathy. As I read her email a smile grew across my face to hear that no only did she achieve her dream of coming to the US as an Au Pair, but of all place she was in Ojai, California. We corresponded via email a few times and then spoke on the phone. I have now seen her twice and am so happy to hear of her experience here and what she’s learning. I’m excited to have her come stay with me for a night and be able to introduce her to family, friends, and my playful companion, Georgie.
We never know what kind of mark we might leave on someone’s life. Over the past few months I have also been receiving emails from some other students I met over there who are now graduated, working, and telling me about their experiences on Linked In. It’s so fun to hear about where they are now, and how the skills I taught them are useful at their jobs. They are also sharing with me overall what they learned from all of the World Academy Facilitators that they can now apply to their life and continue to do so going forward.
As you read this, think of those impactful experiences that you’ve had where someone either made an impression on you, or you wonder of how you might have made an impression on someone else. If you haven’t had too many, I would like to challenge you to be bold in your relations with others. You never know what you can provide for someone else and most importantly what you can learn from them. I learned so much from these students, a nice reminder that I too am a student of life.
Many Blessings, Alanna