Never too old to learn

We’re never too old to look at something in another way.

I did that today at the ‘Engaging in Diversity Conversations” sponsored by the Nonprofit Alliance of Monterey.

Dr. Chene Swart of South Africa travels the world with her message of “Narrative leadership practices.” We were in groups of six people with lessons for each group to talk about and then share.

I don’t want to go into all the detail, but two items stuck with me: One of those were to have one person speak while two other listened without judging, assuming, advising or applauding. Instead we were to be curious, ask questions that we didn’t know, use the language of the story teller and be open to learn transcendence.

One woman came from Mexico with her parents at the age of two and then soon afterwards,she was sent back to Mexico to be raised by her grandmother. Then when she became nine years old, she was sent back to California. Then for many years she was back and forth.

She told us while in Mexico, she was different than the others, because her language sounded different, and because she also lived in the U.S., Mexican children considered her rich. But when in the U.S. she was a poor Mexican with farm labor parents. She learned what it was like to be different in two cultures, which has given her a better understanding of the folks she works with.

It was difficult for me not to applaud how she overcame being different it two cultures.

The entire morning was based on listening to the other person for their story for understanding, which brings me to the other item I learned; “it’s not the person who is the problem, it’s the problem that’s the problem.

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