Happy New Year!
I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday! Dana and I are traveling around New Mexico and Arizona with Woodstock in tow. We met up with our friend, Susan Preston, who is also a member of my team. She and Dana were planning to look at life through the lens of their cameras and take photos of sandhill cranes, Canadian geese, and waterfowl. However, the winter storm and the government shut down took over their plans. No park access and 12 degrees sent us to Susan’s Airbnb for two days of eating, drinking, resting, reflecting, and reading.
During my solitary activities, I contemplated my recent trip back to Costa Rica and to the campus of UPEACE.
Driving up the mountains to the campus reminded me of the daily bus rides to school where I enjoyed sitting with my classmates, who hailed from around the world, and asking them about themselves. I learned so much about everyone. I had tears of joy as I remembered my colleagues and friends, some of whom attended my birthday book launch party in March 2018, but many of whom I haven’t seen in years. My year in Costa Rica was one of the richest times of my life, and it was nice to reminisce.
As I walked into the main room of the campus, where I led the “Life after UPEACE” workshop, memories resurfaced as I noticed a couple of students in the room working on the model UN simulation that was coming up in early 2019. We discussed the simulation from 2005 when I had the chance to direct the media, including CNN, BBC, Reuters, and Al Jazeera in the simulation.
I shared with the workshop participants that while their academic achievements were important, having common experiences with their fellow students and exploring the places of Costa Rica would add depth to their knowledge and the wisdom they would gain from their year at UPEACE. That was the gift I received from UPEACE, and I hoped they would receive that in addition to their degree.
While wandering around the campus, breathing in the tropical air and savoring the lush foliage, I was struck by the importance of staying connected with friends and family. Social media makes that easier, but I realized that I needed to make a diligent effort to see others face to face. I had not done enough of that in 2018.
I know that connection at the heart level occurs when people can see, hear, and feel one another in the present moment. There are no regrets from the past and no anxiousness for the future––just the beauty of the present.
That kind of connection can only happen when engaging the head, heart, and hands. So as you and I begin this New Year, join me in taking time for yourself, being present, and connecting with those important to you while doing your work in the world.
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