Global Convening of Atlantic Senior Fellows, 2019

Global Convening of Atlantic Senior Fellows, 2019

This was really quite a magical weekend.
If you can imagine many of these fellows had never met before
and yet here we were building relationships of trust, forging
connections and moving from those connections to talk about working
together, to talk about how to support and challenge each other in the work
that we do in the world. And so we began with some beautiful welcomes. People
reaching out to each other making those first connections. So I’m a descendant of the Gangulu people of central Queensland and I say a greeting in my own language, the Gangulu language, binbi gari, and I think this might be the first time is that
word, binbi gari, has ever been heard in a place like this. We see you. We recognise you. We’ve got the memory that doesn’t get lost because our mountains have heard you voice and your voice is still alive in us. [Singing] [Applause] Health Equity is: Purpose! Health Equity is: Power! Health Equity is: Resilience! Health Equity is: Justice! [Flute playing] Those living with dementia are amazing, and they have amazing minds. [Singing] And before I’ll be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave. And go home to my Lord and be free. Cold are the hearts of those who proclaim freedom by control. Fold or play your cards. But with a handful of hearts, it gets hard to play those cards, paper thin hearts that fit into your soul. These are not cards, these are not pawns, these are people, god’s people, our lord’s people, any people, our people, they don’t belong to campaigns. [Music] My culture to your culture, I
acknowledge, I see you, thank you. When we first started planning for this
convening there were two things that we were focused on one was how do we create
a convening, a curriculum design that was reflective of and responsive to a
diverse global Senior Fellow community. Secondly how do we ensure that the
convening shifted from a diverse community to a community of belonging
where every single Senior Fellow regardless of their background, culture
and language came into a space, were inspired and were able to establish deep
connections with each other that ultimately were transformative rather
than being transactional. I’m really honored to be here and I hope to be provocative in the best sense of the word. Provocative of thought, provocative
of questions and provocative of a will to do something. That’s exactly what we
set out to achieve was to have it in front of our fellows speakers that would
provoke, would catalyze different thinking and conversations about areas
around global injustice and inequities that might cause discomfort, that was really
important, that was an intentional part of the curriculum arc for the convening.
That it put some of our fellows into a space of
discomfort because with discomfort comes learning and liberation. For others
it was information that may have resonated with them and we intentionally
did that across the four keynote speakers. If you look at the collective challenges we face in the world, at the root cause you will see a deficit of empathy, moral courage and unity, in short a critical lack of humanity. The need to
see Humanity in the people that you have a difference with is a critically needed
commodity today, so to those who think that it’s okay
to demonize the people that voted for Donald Trump or the people that voted
for Brexit let me say quite clearly you’re not being helpful. Unless we can
see the humanity of the people that were influenced to vote in particular ways,
unless we can see them as our mothers, our fathers, our brothers and our sisters,
we are being lazy as activists. I think Kumi’s message was profound and very relevant for the goals of the Atlantic community, which seeks to bring together
fellows from diverse perspectives, a breadth and depth of diversity unseen
in global fellowship programs. If we are real about being activists, and he’s
challenging all of our fellows with this question, then we need to stop talking to
ourselves and talk to others who most disagree with us and find a common
humanity to have a conversation informed by love and respect. European colonialism
was a collective and individual endeavor that established, determined and
perpetuated the forms of global inequality that continue to disfigure
our contemporary world. It’s address requires us to acknowledge the ways in
which we benefit from this structuring of the world and act to resolve those
structures in a social democratic and not a national social democratic way. How can we ensure that the injustices of the past, whether against indigenous peoples, women, people living with disabilities
and so on, are addressed with seriousness. So to each and every one of you in this room,
if you are anything like me there will be many days when you wake up,
read the news and you feel desperately sad. I want to say to you when you hit
those moments just remind yourself the world would be even a more pessimistic
place were it not for the work that each and every one of you are doing in the
different contexts that you find yourself. Gurminder and Kumi underscored the root causes of global inequalities and I
think it’s segwayed nicely into Tenzin’s presentation, which was about hope and
the importance of leaders, social justice leaders, sustaining hope as they do their
work in social justice. It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a
profoundly sick society. And when we talk about ethics, when we talk about ethical
framing, when we talk about ethics being introduced and how we design policies,
how we design technology frameworks, how we design technology that individuals
interact with on a day-to-day-basis, you have to inject it with the sense of hope,
you have to inject it with the sense of enthusiasm, hoping that it is going to do
something better for Humanity at large. Now what is hope? It’s an emotion and a
way of thinking. The emotional part of hope, to think of a better future, is unconscious.
It’s linked to a sense of trust, care and caring. But the thinking part of Hope is
about having the will and the way. Hope for me it’s not a fluffy term, hope for
me is a game changer. Our Senior Fellows are all in from the communities most
impacted by injustice and inequality. In that work sometimes it’s challenging to
maintain a sense of hope, so these messages around hope
were important for our fellows. Important as they shift from thinking about a
better future to shifting to action and agency and acting and collaboration with
each other, informed by hope. The inclusion
of the panel’s was intentional in terms of ensuring a Senior Fellow voice being
woven through the convening, that it wasn’t dominated by a keynote speaker and
that Senior Fellows were included in the conversations about particular topic
areas. They were selected intentionally in terms of diversity right across the
programs, across cultures, language, backgrounds etc and they weren’t
necessarily experts in a particular topic and again that was intentional
in that we wanted or asked or invited Senior Fellows to talk about what
resonated for them as a result of hearing from the keynote speaker and
that was about putting in front of the room, bringing into the room some sense
making and decoding that we knew was happening for every single Senior Fellow
in the room. Conversations that were at the beginning quite carefully curated,
over the course of the weekend those conversations were more and more
generated by the fellows themselves and there were these amazing moments where
you’d look out on the lawn and see a group of people talking and laughing and
planning and realized my goodness there are people there from four different
programs and they’re talking not just about who they are and what their work
is but how they can work together to make change in the world. My breath was literally taken away
observing our fellows connect deeply, entering into conversations that they may
they may not have had but for this convening. The laughter, the joy, the
inspiration and the willingness and the commitment to connect for further impact
collaboratively across the community. It was inspiring, it was humbling and it was
a huge blessing for all of the Institute to be part of. On the last evening of the
convening we celebrated the inaugural Atlantic Senior Fellow Awards. The awards
are designed to recognize work by Senior Fellows after graduation that’s really
emblematic of what the Atlantic Fellowship is about. So work where the
leadership that fellows are showing is characterized by the Atlantic values of
courage and empathy and collaborativeness and resilience and
open-mindedness. And where the work they’re doing is
beginning to have a really important impact for justice. And the winner is The Development of a HIA Framework for the Philippines team. So our second winner is the East
Mediterranean Brain Health Initiative team. Elaine Howard, Hany Ibrahim and Stelios Zygouris. I think the most important thing
about this award is appreciation and recognition of our work. It will be a
very powerful push to continue and have a bigger commitment to this project. It really helps us now as we start to bring other
fellows to this work and there’s an energy now behind us, it’s wonderful
to be endorsed as Hany says and to To receive that from your peers if you will, and from the Atlantic Institute is fantastic. It’s a mixture of an
achievement and a new start so it’s a great feeling. At the Institute we’re
really committed to supporting those next steps. How do we support that
continuation of conversation? So we’ve seen quite a big uptick of engagement
and conversation on the Atlantic Fellows Hub. Seeing fellows taking the
conversations they had in-person into the virtual space and we’ve seen a lot
of activity around newly formed affinity groups. We’re seeing conversations for
example around displacement, around criminal justice and around work with
youth and so our commitment at the Institute is to support those
conversations as they move ahead and move towards not just the sharing ideas but
the building of common work. Supporting that as well we are now releasing a
suite of workshops and forums where fellows can keep on coming back together
to focus on a thematic area and on work coming out of that thematic area or to
build skills. So the idea is over time to have a mix of virtual and face-to-face
engagement that keeps the conversation going and that keeps creating spaces in
particular for those unlikely conversations that result in really
transformative ideas and work. One of the most profound things that I heard this
week so far has been define or be defined and I think that what we have in
Atlantic is an opportunity to really define ourselves, our community and what
it is that we stand for and what it is that we hope to accomplish collectively. I think it’s been a really good space to connect with other fellows. People have
been very generous in greeting, sitting next to each other exchanging. I mean
incredibly open as strangers and I think there’s been a spiritual quality to some
of the interactions here, but I think there’s been candor and generosity. So it
was really enlightening to be in a conversation where we speak about, we
unpacking these things as leaders and how we position ourselves when we are faced
with power of doubt, so I think that was really enlightening for me. I think the
biggest thing is the value of relationships. There would never be an
opportunity to meet with change makers of this caliber from all over the world,
you just couldn’t create this and so we’re kind of having this feast of ideas
and connections and relationships that have fueled my spirit and I think will
continue to do that for a long time to come. First off I have gained the sense of confidence as a community
and a sense of confidence as a humanity. For me the highlight of the convening has
been getting to know the other fellows and understanding the
interconnected nature of the systemic crises that we face. Let’s keep the momentum going.
When you go back to our countries, let’s still keep the connection going. The
thing that I’ve gained from the fellowship is really a different sense
of connection. It has been fantastic to come and to spend time with people
who’ve heard about, you have an inkling of their work but really to be in the
same space, to be wrestling with thinking about contesting issues together has
really been a special time.

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