Wednesday, October 12, 2005


what barriers?

i just returned from an amazing international young adult leaders conference in ben lomond, ca. the conference was for people in their twenties who are leaders in a peer counseling organization i am a part of. the organization has as its primary goals the elimination of racism and the empowerment of young people. for more info check out their website

the conference was amazing in so many ways, one of the things that had the biggest impact on me was getting to see how much can happen in an international group in spite of the fact that people speak different languages, come from different cultures and have had widely varied life experiences. we often assume that differences like these will create barriers for connection and collaboration, but this past weekend showed me that this can be far from true.

there were people from japan, australia, botswana, kenya, england, mexico, poland, sweden, usa, and more at the conference. the experience that most clearly made evident to me that there were no real barriers in this group was a late night of game playing. we played a variety of interactive games, laughing hysterically and having a fabulous time in a group where the languages spoken ranged from swedish to japanese. it turned out that not only could we navigate whatever language issues came up, for the most part they didn't. we ended the evening feeling connected and filled with a great feeling of happy exhaustion.

as i've begun settling back into my life in minnesota i've been reflecting on these experiences and thinking about how they fit into my life here. what individuals or groups of people do i pull back from based on a belief that our differences will prevent us from forming connections? and more broadly, what barriers do i assume exist that perhaps do not?

how about you, what barriers do you make assumptions about? and i'm not talking just about barriers between people, but barriers in general. have you made assumptions about barriers between you and the job you want or about your ability to tackle certain projects or go after certain ideas?

this conference showed me that questioning the barriers that we assume exist in our lives may well be worth our while. stripping these presumed barriers of their power over us may reveal that behind them lies an amazing wealth of opportunity just waiting to be discovered.

dream big,

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