This past weekend I attended an Inaugural summit at Columbia University, New York, hosted by the MacDella Cooper Foundation. At the time my friend extended the invitation, I had no idea who Macdella was or what her foundation was about.
All I knew for sure was.....I needed a weekend gateway!
So OFF i went to New York to network with what I hoped was, a group of professional African women.
I got to meet MacDella Cooper, a New York based Liberian philanthropist, who started the foundation to help provide education and other necessities of daily living, to the youths in Liberia.
Was it ironic that at the same time, i was just finishing up on the book, Mighty Be Our Powers... about Liberian women during the civil war? Nope I don't think so. I don't believe in coincidences
The summit was very refreshing. It was my first attendance at an African affairs conference strictly centered on issues affecting the African woman.
The 4 Subjects for discussions where
- Morality, Religion and Spirituality
- Finding values in Tradition: Sexuality, Love, Marriage & Family
- Women's War against Women
Panel on Beauty was made up of models, pageant coordinators, members of different sexualities and etc
Panel on religion
My favorite topics where;
Conversations about career and traditions.
How to negotiate for a better contract during job interviews.
Conflict resolution at work especially bullying between females. Why do black women not support each other?
How to deal with jealousy and envy.
How to navigate being a modern professional African woman while trying to maintain cultural traditions.
We stayed at the Bryant Park hotel...apparently known for being a romantic hotel? You could see the park and skating ring from our window. It reminded me of the dallas, texas galleria skating ring
During discussions about the "friend-nemy" sydrome in many female relationships, someone made a reference to something Oprah once said on her show...
A friend is someone who DOES NOT want your life.
That is definitely a good guideline to use when gauging the authenticity of your friendships.
L-Arise Model of the Year, Georgie Badiel (Models4Water) R- Former Miss Tanzania and currently a model, Millen Magase
All in all, it was a great summit. Our stories maybe slightly different but the themes are the same. The journey of leaving a difficult life behind in search for a better one in another continent.
The conflicts of living up to your family's expectations/traditions and doing what makes YOU happy.
Linda Arrey of W.I.L.D.E network, Cynthia Walker of Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates, and Rimma Doubinskaia of Izak Realty
I was mostly inspired by testimonies involving homelessness, domestic abuse and violence. How the individuals did not let those horrific experiences stop them. They turned their tragedies into platforms to start non-profit organizations to help other young African women.