by Ronald L. Mann, Ph.D. (from http://ronmann.com/blog/1144/)
I am getting pretty close to my departure to India for the International Conference on Agribusiness and Sustainability in the Third World sponsored by ASU, Gandhi Research Foundation, and the Jain Irrigation Systems. I plan to post a running blog during my time at the conference to keep you informed about our progress.
I think it is very interesting how I became involved and was invited into this project. As a self-employed Personal Development Coach, I am always looking for ways to market my services and generate client contacts. I was on a web seminar and someone indicated that India was in need of Executive Coaches. I have been to India a couple of times, practice yoga and like the culture so I thought I would explore what was available. I joined a lot of LinkedIn groups and watched the discussions. Someone from India posted an offering for a free webinar and I signed up. The guest speaker was Dr. Patrick Williams who created the non-profit, Coaching the Global Village. I really enjoyed his talk and felt like he was a kindred spirit. We both have a transpersonal psychology background, coaching business, and a desire to make the world a better place. During the webinar, I spoke up and made a personal connect with Dr. Williams. We spoke off line. I had such a positive feeling about this man that I asked if there was anyway in which I could help him. He immediately replied that there was an upcoming conference in India and CGV was providing a component around coaching, mentoring and leadership. Dr. Williams asked me if I wanted to go and represent CGV. It seemed like a great idea to me so I accepted. The major organizer was Arizona State University under that direction of Dr. Marek Wosinski. Here is a little bit about ASU’s involvement.
University-Community Partnership for Social Action Research (UCP-SARnet) is a growing network of above 1200 students, university faculties, community activists, and governmental officials engaged in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 65 countries. UCP-SARnet is dedicated to the education of the next generation of community leaders by compiling and housing an interactive online library of resources and facilitating cross-sector collaborations, networking and multicultural dialogues.
UCP-SARnet has been developed and sponsored by the Department of Psychology, at Arizona State University (USA) in close collaboration with the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR) in Kitchener (Canada), Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw (Poland), and other international partners. Initially co-sponsored by the Centre for International Governance Innovations (CIGI), UCP-SARnet is currently co-sponsored and hosted by IGLOO in Canada. UCP-SARnet is also a member of the Global Alliance on Community Engaged Research and is represented at the Global Alliance for ICT and Development.
What is unique about the UCP-SARnet network is that it has been created and governed by students and community activists who – under the consultation of university faculties -as volunteers, interns or undergraduate research assistants learn skills necessary for building effective partnerships and networks.
Dr. Williams suggested I contact Dr. Wosinki and see how I might contribute. We both found it interesting that I live in Phoenix and ASU is thirty minutes from my home. Dr. Wiliams is in Florida so I was a good geographical fit. I called Dr. Wosinki and he told me he had a meeting the next day with a colleague who happened to be my neighbor and he would stop by after his meeting. Was this a project made in heaven with my name attached to it? Dr. Wosinksi came to visit and brought Osee Romeo Njacheun. Osee has been involved in various volunteering work with international organizations such as UATD-quart Monde, UN Online Volunteer Program. He served as a Regional Coordinator for Cameroon and the Gambia of UCP-SARnet and in 2009, Osee was appointed as an Assistant Facilitator of UCP-SARnet and in 2012, became an Associate Facilitator, in charge of International Operations. Our meeting was heartfelt and I was pleased to see we had similar values and vision.
The Gandhi University is hosting this conference and one aspect is to explore how Gandhi’s non-violent philosophy can be integrated into leadership. As it turns out, I am a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda (Self Realization Fellowship) and Yogananda initiated Gandhi into Kriya Yoga. One of the SRF centers in California (Lake Shrine) has a beautiful memorial to Gandhi and actually holds his only remaining ashes. The Gandhi Memorial is a valued and sacred aspect at the Lake Shrine –– thousands of people visiting this spot every year.
Many years ago I created and directed a non-profit organization called Projects for Planetary Peace. Its main project was a citizen diplomacy mission into the then Soviet Union. I teamed up with Rama Joyti Vernon for this work. Our goal was to humanize people and offer them a personal connection and understanding. At that time, it seemed like President Regan was too ready to “nuke” the Russians. We took people into the Soviet Union and brought Soviet Citizens here to the United States. We believed that it would be more difficult to kill people you knew and liked. I know humanity will have conflict and wars will be waged, but we did not think we needed to destroy the planet through a nuclear war. We are still here so it appears we may have helped. This was a NGO program and people to people exchange.
Swami Satchidananda was on my Board of Directors. I flew to Virginia to invite his participation and as I was waiting for our meeting, I held a copy of his interpretations of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. As I often do, I inwardly asked for direction on how to be most successful with the project and opened this little book. I opened to Sutra 35: Ahimsa –– non-violence. It said, “In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease.” The ancient teachings of India were brought to life for me. Gandhi embraced Ahimsa as a way to defeat the British tyranny. So here I am again in the face of the deeper message that change must take place through a profound inner shift that neutralizes hatred, anger, jealousy, and greed. It was my constant practice back so many years with Projects for Planetary Peace and has once again comes to the foreground as I prepare to depart for Gandhi University.
It appears that my many years of service and personal spiritual practice, along with my training in organizational psychology and leadership development, executive coaching, and clinical psychology make me a good fit for this lofty project. The purpose of this conference is to design a program that will be implemented in India, Ghana, and Kenya next year.
I feel very honored to be a part of Coaching the Global Village and have the highest respect for Dr. Williams. I look forward to meeting wonderful people from around the world and contributing towards the success of this project.
So I have my travel shots (those really hurt for a day) my VISA, and tickets (compliments of CGV). All I need to do is pack and I am off. I will keep you informed along my way.