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Wisdom.....Friendship.....Knowledge.....Fashion.....Service.....Passion......Connections......Bangalore!

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An Incredible, Life-Changing Experience February 7-9, 2014, the Art of Living Foundation hosted its 6th International Women's Conference in Bangalore, India. I was honored and privileged to serve as delegate on behalf of the Jewell Jackson McCabe Emerging Leaders Institute, Inc. Over 700 women - delegates, guests, and speakers representing 60+ countries from around the world shared in the "Harmony of Evolution". We learned from dynamic speakers on a wide range of issues that included environmental sustainability, effective media communications, innovative rehabilitation techniques, and new leadership paradigms. I am eternally grateful to all the people who contributed to ELI to make this journey possible: DeLana Jones, Herbert & Sonji Willingham, Sonja Brown, Hester Parks, Mike & Juanita McGowan, Ross & Nasha Snipes, Reggie Smith, Eric & Dashawn Mayweather, Errin Baugh, Ken & Linda Howard, Robert & Ann Champion, Patience Mitchell, Brian Blackwell, Patricia Mitchell, Ebony Hillsman, John & Jessie Jenkins, Chestina Archibald, Ronald & Darlene Williams, Raymour Clarke, Rowena Silvera, Robin McCallum, Fatina Newman, David & Myesha Good, Cynthia Walton, Trinette McKinney, and Antoinette Marshall. And I thank all my family, friends, and supporters for their prayers and well wishes. I am very happy to share the following pages of pictures, wisdom, and future dreams from this enriching experience. I cannot wait until 2016 when we may marshal a full delegation of our own to go to India together. ELI was well represented

All my best,

at the IWC. Pictured are Lynita, class of 2013

Lynita

members Mona ShahJoshi and Tanika Gray-

Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell Co-founder, ELI 2

Valburn, and another speaker.

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Extraordinary Gems of Knowledge One of the most enriching elements of the conference was the incredible knowledge gained from powerful women from around the world! Here are just a few gems:

Her Excellency Ms. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga Former President - Sri Lanka On Good Leadership "Good leaders make better humans of others. They control the 'animal' in people. They put the common cause above personal needs and have the humility to heed the voice of others. Good leaders have the courage to say, 'I am wrong', give light to darkness, and courage to the hopeless. Good leaders are efficient, and have a clear vision of what is to be accomplished. They have a plan, tools, resources, and commitment to make 'it' happen. We all have these qualities, but we must suppress the bad qualities" to allow the good to shine.

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Founder - the Art of Living Foundation On Women and Equality Women must "own [our] rights. They do not have to be given, [we] already have them."

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The Honorable Smt Rita Bahuguna Joshi President - Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee, India On Women and Power "For women - right now - the sky is the limit! We've come a long way through the women's movement, but we have a some way to go. We are 50% of the population," but we do not exercise 50% of the power or authority.

The Honorable Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi National Spokesperson BJP, Lawyer, Supreme Court & SocioPolitical Activist, India On Women's Empowerment "The Empowerment issue exists because we treat people differently. When we have rights versus rights instead of rights versus duties, conflict results." When people focus on how and what they contribute to the community rather than the entitlement of a state of being, appreciation and therefore empowerment results.

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Her Excellency Dr. Husn Banu Ghazanfar Minister of Women's Affairs, Afghanistan On Women's Equality "Coordination of all people - women AND men - is required to achieve women's equality."

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Her Excellency Ms. Shiranthi Wickremesinghe Rajapaksa First Lady, Sri Lanka On Community Interest "Self interest also means having interest in others."

Outstanding Hospitality I had the pleasure of traveling to India with ELI Leadership Division 2013 graduate Tanika Gray-Valburn, who was also a speaker. As a speaker at the IWC, Tanika was afforded an escort for the duration of the conference. This wonderful woman, Ms. Vinita Verma, was gracious enough to adopt me, too. And we all had a fabulous time!

The Three Musketeers in the middle: Lynita, Tanika, and Vinita flanked by two other escorts.

Vinita met us at the airport - 1am Friday morning - and kept us entertained during the 1.5 hour trip to the Art of Living Center. The Center rests on 200+ acres and is a mini city of its own. In addition to the conference center, there are multiple apartment buildings, strip malls, a spa, dining hall, vocational school, media center (where they broadcast their own TV and radio programs) and they grow their own food and produce several excellent products. 4

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Vinita ensured our check in was smooth, and that we had everything we needed to be comfortable the entire conference. Vinita was a part of our "crew" and was included in most of our pictures. Thankfully, Tanika and Vinita are "picture-nistas" just like me, so there was no judgment between us as we took pictures of everything. Hence, the other 200 pictures on my Facebook page! And some of them made it to the IWC's official page as well. When we arrived in our room, Tanika and I were pleasantly surprised by the welcome gifts - yes plural - that greeted us. In addition to a theme-colored conference bag filled with our agenda, coffee mug, official conference scarf, and leadership/management book by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; we also received a fruit basket, amenities kit filled with Art of Living products that were divine, and a handwritten greeting card from the volunteer who prepared our kits. My kit was compiled by Kavita Classilx. All meals were prepared and served by the volunteer staff at the Center. It was an entirely vegetarian menu and the dishes were delicious. The staff was courteous and friendly, even in 80+ degree heat serving over 700 people three meals each day.

Creative Leadership Methods in Unlikely Places Another element of the Conference that has me excited about attending in 2016 were presentations on creativity in leadership. Here are just a few I thought were exceptional in that the leadership displayed was gained in very unlikely places and/or under unexpected circumstances.

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In Prison Ms. Vimla Mehta, Director General, Tihar Jail, India was one of the first women to serve as a prison guard in the 1970's in India. She rose to the position of warden of one of the largest prison systems in the country. Her focus on rehabilitation rather than retribution has been a model throughout her state and the country: Recidivism in the prisons under her authority are the lowest in the entire country (an incredible feat since she is responsible for the largest number of prisons). Ms. Mehta shared her secret to success: "spiritualism enhances calmness and creativity". Specifically, it brings talents and capabilities to the forefront, and allows people to build self respect because they learn a skill where they can work and get paid. Every jail under her supervision has music, meditation, and vocational training programs. Ms. Mehta said that this keeps people busy and productive. This reduces inmates' desire to return to a life of crime because they leave prison with a way to earn a legal living and resources to live a better life. Far left Tanika and I are with a delegate from Nepal who really touched me. She asked how things were for "our people" [African Americans] post Civil Rights Movement. She shared that her people were going through a similar struggle and that it was important that we stand together in solidarity.

In the Media Ms. Kathrine Aspaas, Journalist & Writer, Norway shared that "we

are going from war to peace journalism very slowly". The audience voiced frustration with all of the negative reporting that dominates the media. Ms. Aspaas challenged everyone to become the sources and reporters to share information we would like to see. The catch is that the reporting cannot be self-interest - it has to lift up others. Many people are so strangled by envy and jealousy that they cannot put their own self interest

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The Jewell Jackson McCabe Emerging Leaders Institute, Inc. EDUCATE DEVELOP MENTOR EMPOWER to the side to do this. "To get the media and people interested in positive things WE are doing, we have to lift up OTHERS who are doing good things."

Tanika Gray Valbun, News Editor, CNN, USA added to the dialogue that news stations are interested in positive news, but that we have to take responsibility for informing them of it. Developing genuine relationships with reporters and news anchors will establish credibility and lay the ground work for you to become that person's "go to" person for news.

In the Arts Ms. Rita Jahan Foruz, Singer & Actor, Israel stressed the importance of cultural pride and heritage in our brand. Ms. Foruz spoke of her feelings of being the "odd person out" as a Jewish girl living in Iran, then as a Persian (Iranian) teen living in Israel. She stated, "we are incomplete without our culture" and ensures that on every album she produces, there is at least one Persian song on all of them - even though that is very unpopular. "Art has an incredible role in building bridges between people and should not be taken lightly." Ms. Foruz also shared the following affirmation that I thought was so powerful: "You must allow yourself to cry, fall down and fall apart because you are strong enough to get back up and rise!"

My travel companion, Tanika Gray-Valburn made me laugh hourly, to the point I gave her the hashtag #tbtanika (tickled by Tanika). She is so positive. As you can see by the picture, the ceilings were very ornate. The pigeons thought so, too. And they had no problem telling us so on the first day... by doing their "doo" right in front of us! I told Tanika I would die if I got hit by a pigeon bomb. She said, "Well, it's supposed to be good luck!" #tbtanika

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In Native American Tribal Traditions Ms. Annika Dopping, TV Producer, Sweden, completed a documentary on the Onondaga Nation (People of the Hills) and found that the Chief is selected by the Clan Mother of the tribe based on his behavior throughout his life. The belief is that since the Clan Mothers have primary responsibility for the rearing of children - including their education and cultural emersion - they are in the best position to select the person who will lead their people. Clan Mothers also have the power to remove a chief if he does not exemplify strong leadership.

In Terminal Illness Ms. Beka Ntsanwisi, Women & Children's Advocate, "Mother Teresa" of Limpopo, South Africa, was an incredible inspiration. She was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, and her doctors told her to start making arrangements because she was terminal - 10 years ago. Since the diagnosis, Ms. Ntsanwisi has gone on to help victims of child and domestic abuse, and serve as a powerful advocate for education of the girl-child. Her motivation comes from the work that will be left unfinished should she die. "How can I die before I [get this house in order]? How can I die while a 85 year old woman is being raped by her own grandson? How can I die while a father keeps his child home from school so he may have sex with her? I cannot die before my work is done!"

Special appreciation to Mona Shah-Joshi (far right), Art of Living Foundation - Georgia Director (and ELI Leadership 2013 graduate!) for inviting me on this amazing journey. Mona has been a member of the AOL faculty for 20+ years, and is an advanced instructor - there are only a handful of them of literally thousands of teachers in the entire world.

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Hangin' Out with His Holiness A true treat, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar hosted a Google Hangout that was attended by not only the Conference attendees, but also people broadcasting from 9 other countries. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom shared by the guru:  On how we get the "spark" (or excitement to live) back into our lives: Babies are born with the spark. People already have the spark, it's not placed in them.  A lot has been done to make people sensible, but not much to make them  

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sensitive. The head longs for something new and the heart longs for the old. We need both. In reference to Israelites and Palestinians coming together: Artificial fear has been placed in us by our political structures. This must be removed so we may break through the barriers that separate us. Violent video games should be restricted. They desensitize children so that they do not see the violence (shooting, etc.) as crime. On why people are poor: 1. Corruption - it can destroy nations. 2. Freebies - they are not the answer to poverty. People have to work [for what they get]. 3. Lack of Compassion - we must teach our children compassion. Stress is too much to do, too little time, and too little energy. You must have faith in yourself that you can draw the power to handle the present situation. Do breathing exercises. Take a good walk and watch nature. Nature will provide the strength, courage, and grace to get you through [whatever challenges come]. On whether yoga is anti-religious: the [problem is that] the world doesn't differentiate between religion and spirituality. Spirituality is a system of values. Yoga is an exercise, not a religion.

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The Jewell Jackson McCabe Emerging Leaders Institute, Inc. 

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EDUCATE DEVELOP MENTOR EMPOWER Tanika in Action!!!: Her question: what is media's role in reporting negative news? Report facts and provide hope for the future. Media should not create depression. Even when reporting negative news, there are good people at work in the situation. Media must focus on the good in that situation. Media must balance hope and reality. There are very few bad people on the planet. Bad things occur because good people are silent. Good people must speak up and act so the world will be a better place. If you want to influence your kids you must influence their friends. On women's equality: Women must come forward and take their place, not wait for someone to give a place. Women must [determine] the solution for how women can overcome obstacles [to equality]. First educate, then empower. Cultural activities can transform society. Meditation should be done before meals or 2-3 hours after. It increases metabolism.

Restoring Balance to the Cycle of Nature Usually, speakers on scientific topics are very credentialed, very opinionated, and very... boring. Not so at this Conference! The following women were extremely qualified and experienced, but delivered dynamically energized presentations that had me scrambling to keep up with my note-taking.

Dr. Vandana Shiva, Author & Environmentalist, India set the afternoon off with a bang when she said that "GMO's [genetically manufactured organisms] are an arrogant way of may saying, 'God move over, we will be creators now.'" She shared with us that the fertilizers we use on our crops are made in the same factories where bombs were manufactured during [World War II]. Dr. Shiva informed us that early pesticides were used in concentration camps to kill prisoners, and in her opinion, both [fertilizer and bombs] are tools of destruction. There is such a focus on killing insects that we forget that 1. everything is something's food; and 2. soil is a living system, sustains and brings forth life. Dr. Shiva informed us that 75% of the world's soil is unusable due to chemical pollution; and 75% of water 10

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The Jewell Jackson McCabe Emerging Leaders Institute, Inc. EDUCATE DEVELOP MENTOR EMPOWER used in irrigation is used on chemicals, not crops. As you can imagine, Dr. Shiva's presentation left me with much to consider.

Dr. Richa Chopra, Senior Member - Faculty Art of Living, India shared the truth of what we are slowly coming to realize: "nature cannot be bribed - it cannot be brought. We are not inheriting the earth from our ancestors. We are borrowing it from our children." She also shared that, "Nature provides us according to our needs, not our greed."

Dr. Marcia De Luca, Specialist in Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda, Brazil shared that "like a sponge, photos absorb our thoughts which contain our emotions. So we have the power to change the world - literally - [by changing the way we think and feel]. There are two elements to changing the world: shakti and shiva. Shakti - the feminine component - is the power to transform the universe. Shiva - the masculine component - is the power to move the universe. You must have both.

Professor Maya Chakravarti V, Director, Symbiosis Institute of Media Communications, Vice Chairperson, AIMS Karnataka & Kerala Chapter, India told us that "we are in a race toward doom." She specifically referenced the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" (if you have not seen it, please do!) and how we must stop environmental pollution AND implement programs that stop the degradation of our environment. Professor Chakravarti V left us with hope in green schools as a positive start to address environmental erosion. Carla Dancy-Smith, Lynita MitchellBlackwell, Tanika Gray-Valburn. What can I say, powerful women like three names and hyphens! Of the 700+ people in attendance, we were the only three African Americans (black women from the USA) in attendance. That is going to change in 2016!

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Fabulous Entertainment Our first night, members of the Art of Living Foundation performed Advitiya, a feastfor-your-eyes stage performance of a young woman finding her connection with God that included several forms of classical, folk, and contemporary dance styles; beautiful costumes, and phenomenal energy. The second night, we were dazzled by decadent styles during a fashion show that had locals from all around crammed onto the manicured lawn just to get a glimpse.

Bangalore 2016 - Here I Come!

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ELI Goes to India!  

Delegation report on the Art of Living Foundation International Women's Conference in Bangalore, India prepared for the Board of Directors,...

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