SUCCESS STORIES


 

Asabi Rawlins - 2018 Summit Participant

 

The Aspire Artemis summit in St. Lucia was, in a word, powerful. Although brief, the summit inspired such incredible dialogue and exchange, that I truly believe this experience will influence my thinking and actions moving forward.

Set in the most welcoming and hospitable locale of St Lucia, the Summit really offered “positive vibes only” (the slogan on one my fellow participants’ T-shirt). After attending numerous conferences and summits all over the world, I feel like this was one of the most impactful. All the conversations were so organic, very few prompts were utilized and instead myself and my fellow participants from the USA, South America and Africa engaged in this tremendous discourse on diverse topics such as development, societal inequalities, women’s empowerment (and the importance of including men in the fight for gender parity) and youth unemployment. It’s incredible to me, just how potent the outcomes of the discussions were without being weighed down by structure or over-stated formality. For instance, one of the participants shared her spectacular art work and discussed how she uses her talent to positively impact disenfranchised children in Nigeria by auctioning her work and having the proceeds go to charity. After having visited world-renowned museums all over Europe, I don’t doubt that her work will one day be displayed among the greats. Her passion was evident when she spoke, and it typified the impact of this summit – to have diverse youths share their passions, hopes and dreams on so many different but equally valid issues. 

To say that I found my week in St Lucia to be powerful is an understatement. I was able to fully engage in the discussions but also take time to reflect on everything that was said, and how I could bring lessons back home to Trinidad and Tobago. Simmone L. Bowe, offered powerful messages about confronting your perceived limits and overcoming them. I was also fortunate to be able to attend a cocktail reception co-sponsored by CAFRA, Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action.  This was a wonderful end to the week’s activities. Sometimes you attend a talk and are unaffected by the lengthy speeches and presentations. This was certainly not the case here. Dr. Oluwakemi Banks delivered a brief message but it was PHENOMENAL. I found her call for women to not diminish their own power in a bid to appease others really pertinent to my own journey and it is definitely a message that will reverberate in my consciousness for a long time to come. 

As for the Summit’s organizer, Hermina Johnny…WOW. You can’t pretend to be that genuine, that motivational, that sincere. Hermina ensured that we all had such a fulfilling time in St Lucia and also exemplified that when life gives you lemons you can make lemonade, lemon meringue, lemon custard, lemon tart…basically you can achieve anything despite life’s setbacks. She navigated all of the week’s challenges to ensure that the Summit’s aims were fulfilled. I really admire her ability to uplift other women and young people in general, and I definitely have learnt much from her in a short time. 

In sum, I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Aspire Artemis Summit in St Lucia. I am at a particular point in my life where I had been feeling pressure to diminish my past accomplishments and future aims in a bid to make other people comfortable or not make them threatened. This Summit affirmed that I do not need to dim my light to make anyone’s light brighter. If anything, I need to shine my light and be a beacon to inspire and empower others. I definitely look forward to working with and supporting Aspire Artemis in the future!

“This Summit affirmed that I do not need to dim my light to make anyone’s light brighter. If anything, I need to shine my light and be a beacon to inspire and empower others.”

— Asabi Rawlins

“This Summit affirmed that I do not need to dim my light to make anyone’s light brighter. If anything, I need to shine my light and be a beacon to inspire and empower others.”

— Asabi Rawlins

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Shantel Wong - 2018 Summit Participant

 

Even though it’s been a few weeks back from a young Women’s leadership empowerment summit in St. Lucia, I would like to briefly reflect on my experience. While I got to meet and interact with powerful and strong minded young leaders, it was my first experience having a round table discussion with women from the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. It was also the first conference on the theme of women’s empowerment where I saw men join in to share their knowledge and support. The conversation was lively and each woman/ man shared their individual viewpoints. The space was also comfortable. I felt like we all shared our diverse viewpoints and grew a relationship so close that most would think we knew each other for longer than a few days. It showed that it did not matter what part of the world we were from, we were all similar. We all had stories; mine being a college student from New York who overcame several different life challenges growing up. I was raised by many different people, which supports the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.” The summit allowed me tell my life story and be comfortable sharing it in a room full of strangers. It demonstrated to me that my story can empower another woman in the room who may have related despite coming from a different part of the world. 

The Summit had me look at myself and feel empowered. It made me confirm things I already knew. I participated in workshops that allowed me to realize my internal and external limits. In addition to the training and workshops, I also got the opportunity to do things that I loved such as explore new places and have adventures. The president of Aspire Artemis demonstrated to me that a leader is someone who is flexible and adaptable to change. She showed calm and ease even when the day got hectic, or if we were off schedule. She made a beautiful host by making sure all our needs were met and showing us St. Lucia in such a small period. As a leader, she felt the need to show her culture and the island while being on the summit. This demonstrates that while learning about new cultures and traditions with an intercultural group, it is often important to take a pause and explore the culture and traditions of the place/ country in which you decide to hold a conference or summit. You are often made the better for it. In all, I enjoyed my training in Saint Lucia and was amazed at the beauty and hospitality of its people. Thanks to Aspire Artemis for the well rounded full and holistic educational experience presented at summit Saint Lucia!

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Augustine Ogbu - 2018 Summit Participant

 

A creative life begins when you teach someone to see and not to merely look.
Thanks to all the mentors and young leaders who came from far and wild. I was indeed inspired. 
I will always aspire to empower and inspire people to see and not to merely look.

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