Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-GA H&V, GBYS Program Coordinator-Scarlett Giles

 Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019
by GA H&V, GBYS Program Coordinator-Scarlett Giles

*We will have 9 Blog posts from our 9 GA H&V team members that went to the Annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference this past September in Washington D.C. at Gallaudet University. 
Gallaudet is the world's only Deaf/Hard of Hearing University. 
GA H&V Guide By Your Side Team at the Conference
Left to Right: Kelly Cashion, Scarlett Giles, Katie Hope, Nadia Martinez, & Beth Flaherty
"Learning in the Lounge"
Like I organize my holiday decor, I must also organize my thoughts by coming up with a theme. The theme I came up with for this blog post is "Learning in the Lounge." The most impactful moments/learning for me on this conference trip took place in what I will call "the Lounge." "The Lounge" is those moments that are unstructured & even sometimes pushing the boundaries of comfort.  My work team knows that I am a very "structured" Boss with due dates, emails, etc....ok, so I can be a Micro-Manager. I am a planner. But my team will also tell you that I will push boundaries in a unstructured sometimes chaotic way.  Before I give you my Lounge examples, the Conference sessions & presenters were amazing! 
I jotted down many notes, but I will share 3 quotes from the sessions that impacted me:
1. Lead from a place of empathy, not sympathy.
2. Take the Journey with me not for me.
3. When you forget your "why" you lose your way. 

My "Learning in the Lounge" Examples
1. Lounge Traveling- You sure learn who people are when you travel with them. We all learn each other's picky eating habits, bedtime rituals, & superstitious ways.  By superstitious ways, I mean if you fly with me you must touch the outside of the plane as we board. I had a snickers bar at the airport that said, "Who are you when you are Hungry?"....Hangry people cannot suppress their mood! Below is a picture of us eating authentic Chinese food. I learned a lot as I watched people try to say the name on the menu, ask questions about unknown words, & be delightfully surprised at the taste. Another picture below is our name badges. We got to decorate them & they give you a glimpse into each of our personalities. 
We were able to decorate our name badges.....it tells you a lot about a person. 

Chinese food in Chinatown 
2. Lounge Sightseeing- This trip we flew in a day early for some D.C. sightseeing. I have a friend from college that lives there and took us around the monuments.  Besides the size of the monuments, their words had an even bigger "Lounge learning impact." "Freedom is not Free" sat outside the Korean & Vietnam memorials. 

Deshonda Washington, Scarlett Giles, & their 'personal tour guide of the day Juan, aka Scarlett's friend from college. 

Deshonda Washington (GA H&V Executive Director /ASTra Program Director) & Scarlett Giles touring Washington D.C. 
The MLK Jr. memorial site had many great quotes to ponder. "Out of the mountain of despair. A stone of hope." was inscribed on the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. as shown above. Another quote by King was "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge & controversy. The most touching "Lounge moment" was when the three of us were lounging on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. Juan said, "You see all those people looking out to the reflecting pool/Washington monument? They are missing the best part. They are standing right where MLK Jr. gave his "I have a Dream" speech.  It’s actually inscribed on the ground, but most people never see it.” The picture above shows the moment when the crowd cleared. Deshonda walked up and looked down. We stood where MLK Jr. stood! As you looked out at the vastness you could hear in your mind the crowds roar back in the day, and we know today that his words traveled way further than those steps.  
Deshonda & Scarlett at the Nat. Museum of African American History
My favorite Lounge Sightseeing moment actually lasted 3 hours. WE, a southern white girl & a southern African American girl, walked together in the National Museum of African American History & Culture.  We walked the highs.....pop culture-Whitney Houston, James Brown, Michael Jordan. We descended literally in an elevator into the lows.... slavery. The only way out was to ascend upwards.  The only way through was to acknowledge it & learn something from it. 

3. Lounge Uptime- Saturday night at the conference is always downtime, but Hands & Voices calls it "Uptime."  Uptime is when you choose to attend a planned social event with fellow conference goers. History tours, local culture, arts/craft fairs, etc. are among the choices each year. H&V also has a tradition to have everyone meet after Uptime at a local restaurant/bar for the ultimate stress relief/bonding......DANCING! It's breaks the ice so to speak. The wall flowers wish they had the nerve to dance & the dancers sometimes wish they had stayed on the wall.  The picture below was actually taken by Hands & Voices, Executive Director, Janet DesGeorges. She is also one of the founders of Hands & Voices. She is pictured in the right bottom corner. I love this picture because we are out dancing, some of us have never met as we are all from different states, but we had a great time bonding. 
GA H&V team (5 of us in the top right) dancing with other H&V members during Uptime.  
4. Lounge Intermission- Our days were packed with sessions, but there was a big "Lounge Moment" for me during a session break.  I went to a presentation by Kentucky H&V in which they had horses & Horseshoes (for luck)for table decor. Afterwards I saw them on the elevator and told them that my daughter Amelia wanted me to bring back her a horse from DC. The next day the ladies from Kentucky H&V handed me their table decor horse and told me to give it to Amelia. Their chapter name for the horse is Harvey. Guess what? HARVEY was Amelia's grandfather whom had Deaf parents. I thought, Hello Harvey from Heaven....message received. 
Picture to go with Kentucky H&V Horse Story above
5. Lounge Lunch Break- During our lunch break, GA H&V team members decided to do a self-guided tour of  Gallaudet University. We walked the campus and came upon a chapel. I, of course, urged everyone to follow me to see if the door was open. Not only was the door open, but we walked into a museum of the university's history. Reading about the political and social history the school had weathered through was touching. Below is a picture of  these amazing ASL hand statues that sat in the museum. I took a picture of each one & sent my two Hard of Hearing children their names in sign. 
Gallaudet University Museum 

In Gallaudet's Museum 
All of these "Learning in the Lounge" moments leads me to a concept I heard about at the conference. It's called the "Lollipop Moment." Many great people, like MLK Jr. had a dream, & as the quote above says, " We still have a Dream." The concept is we have dreams of changing the whole world, but what if you changed one person's world. The story goes in short (long version in video link below) a guy named Drew Dudley was passing out Lollipops at Freshman Orientation for a club cause. He gave one to a shy guy standing in line next to a girl who had planned to later that day tell her parents that she felt like she didn't fit in at the college and wanted to go home. Dudley then told the guy to give this beautiful girl the lollipop. Awkward moment ensued then laughter. 4 years later, the girl found Dudley & said you are the reason I stayed, because you broke the ice and made me feel like I could make this place my home. She also said by the way the guy you made give me the Lollipop has been my boyfriend for these past 4 years. Another year later, Dudley gets an invitation to their wedding. It was a "Lollipop Moment" Dudley did a simple act that had no impact on his life, yet it changed the life of someone else. Full video story link here  https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership?language=en&fbclid=IwAR2lu0jmWueO_i2SJKjtg5ukboh21KU0IHn-13mheaoxtjuSFHtROIk6i_4#t-344431

Perhaps you might have changed somebody's life without even knowing it. Is there a "Lollipop Moment" that changed your life?  Did you tell that person? I thought about this concept today and I remembered of a Lollipop text message I received a few months ago from my dear friend and coworker Deshonda. I did a screenshot of the text at the time, because it was so kind & powerful. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it, but she knows me......so I'm sharing it. 
Thank you Deshonda for giving me a "Lollipop Moment." Deshonda & I have had lots of "Learning in the Lounge" moments over the past 5 years.  In the Lounge is where the real dialogue happens. It's what our souls needs & it's what our community needs. I look forward to sharing more moments with my team, with our GA H&V community, & with H&V chapters all over the world. 
GA H&V, Guide By Your Side Program Coordinator- Scarlett Giles
GA H&V team that went to the D.C. Conference 2019

H&V Chapters from all across the United States drawing symbols that define their chapter, but unite us in one banner. 

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