Monday, July 02, 2007

International Connections - To England and Back in 72 hours

"Have message. Will travel."

Over the past 15 years my network has expanded to include peers from around the world. Through this process I've expanded my own tool box of ideas that can help me lead the Cabrini Connections and Tutor/Mentor Connection. I've also shared ideas that I hope will help others help young people in many other places.

Last Wednesday evening I flew to England to be a speaker at CWDC’S Integrated Working Conference 2007 for Learning Development Support Services (LDSS) Strategic Managers, hosted by Learning Mentors, which is primarily a school-based support service for at-risk students. I left on Wednesday evening from Chicago and arrived at London seven hours later. I transfered to a flight taking me to Manchester, where a taxi was waiting to whisk me to the conference site about 30 minutes away.

I arrived just in time to participate in a workshop on mentoring around the world. One of the highlights was a video created by Claire Kime, who had visited America in 2004 as part of a Winston Churchill Fellowship. I was one of the people she met when she came to Chicago and that was what led to my invitation to the Learning Mentors conference.

While I participated in workshops on Thursday and Friday, I also delivered a keynote presentation on Friday morning. I've posted it on the T/MC site so that Learning Mentors participants can draw on it for further deliberations, and so that others in different countries can also draw from this.

I flew back to Chicago on Saturday, so my trip lasted a total of less than 72 hours.

While this trip lasted such a short time, my hope is that the results last a lifetime. There was a genuine enthusiasm for collaboration and shared learning among the people I met at this conference. While I hope this means some of the ideas from the Tutor/Mentor Connection are used in their own efforts, I also hope it means that some UK leaders take on the same networking role we do, with a goal of enlisting British universities and multi-national corporations as strategic leaders in comprehensive, long-term mentoring programs that expand adult networks and lead more young people to jobs and careers.

In the past two days I've introduced the Learning Mentors network to several others who I have met in Internet forums, such as Classroom 2.0. Today, I read a message posted by Christine Gray, CEO of The School Volunteer Program Inc., based in Australia. I sent an e-mail to Christine and told her of the Learning Mentors, because many of the concepts that Christine is applying in Australia could also be applied by Learning Mentors in England.

In this role I'm a "network weaver" connecting people and organizations from different places with each other. As others take this role I feel we create a greater public and private sector understanding of the various forms of mentoring and tutoring that lead kids to jobs and careers.

If this happens, we can recruit higher visibility leaders who use their positions of influence to draw more volunteers, leaders and financial supporters to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, and in other cities throughout the world.

This can help us do more to help the teens and volunteers at Cabrini Connections. It can help others like me do more to help the kids they work with.

I've invited some of the new friends I met in England to introduce themselves via my blog, or the T/MC discussion forum.

If you'd like to join this networking, please add your own introduction.

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