In the positively antarctic conditions of Iowa during January, I arrived in my warmest possible coat, ready to work, ready to learn. Having been invited by Mollie Marti, the CEO of the National Resilience Institute, to be involved in a 6 month project in one of Iowa’s 99 counties, Linn County, I of course packed my suitcase and jumped on a plane.
I arrived in the land of Laura Ingalls and Little House on The Prairie. Having spent some time near Rochester, Mount Vernon and also Cedar Rapids, it is about as American as it gets! I got to meet Mollie’s In Laws on their remote farm, drank coffee in Brewhemia and ate fries in the Palisades Cafe.
Then to work…. My role was very minimal in the great scheme of the project; I delivered a training event for one day. BUT I loved it! When I work across various continents, the UK, the US and Pakistan, I can sometimes forget a basic truth. My mind can get caught up in cultural differences, expectations and a whole heap of internal madness but the truth of it all is that humans, wherever they may live, are wired up to connect. Essentially we all want to belong, to connect to be seen and to feel safe. Once I remembered this, I settled down and relaxed into the session.
Finally Mollie has a TV show (I know!!!!) and she wanted to interview me on it (I know!!!!!). So here is the end result and even though I was pretty uncomfortable for the first 15 minutes, I think it has come out well. We ended up talking about lived experience at the heart of services, the essential self awareness journey that needs to be undertaken and being part of the paradigm shift that is curious rather than stigmatising.
All in all, it was an amazing opportunity which I would repeat again, even in -25 degrees, in a heartbeat!