These are real quotes from real people who attended the Swarm last year.  We are grateful and humbled by their kind words:

“Awesome idea and fab execution. The Swarm was so great. In my line of work, if I’m not happy or motivated, it’s hard for me to do a good job. So the first step is to work on myself. The Swarm has inspired me to put more of myself into my work, to be creative, and to expand in directions I never would have thought of.”

“The Swarm forged a deeper set of connections among many of my interests – storytelling, introspection, sharing, identity…I’ve used a lot of what came out of this to inform my teaching. It helped me respect more deeply who I am as a teacher, and helped me to help get the most out of my students from this perspective.”

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We establish a space of trust for authentic conversations.

“This was AMAZING. I was a skeptic going in, but no joke, the Swarm changed my life.”

““Unless you love, your life will flash by.” Tree of Life, Terrence Malick. “The youth who get together every weekend at Shinjuku obviously know that they are not on a launching pad toward real life; but they are life, to be eaten on the spot like fresh doughnuts.” Sans Soleil, Chris Marker.  I love these films, and I love these quotes, and I bring them up to color the meaning and depth of my experience at the Melibee Swarm on Culture, Identity, and Perspective, and why I am returning. So much in life can be rushed, and feel rushed, and when we rush, and when we focus on an outcome and not the process we miss things. We miss the fullness of the experience, and a timbre of understanding that only comes to fruition through the living of the experience. I loathe the acronym FOMO, but will say that my fear of missing out is really a fear of not being present, of allowing my life to flash before my eyes because of professional and personal pressures and anxieties. So for me, Melibee was meaningful because of its emphasis on patience and pace, and the incredible focus on exploring difficult topics in a tangible way. The insight gleaned from conversations with folks around the globe with an impressive dimension of experience was unparalleled. In reflecting on the space for meaningful exchange at Melibee I’m reminded of “The Heart of Higher Education,” where authors Parker Palmer and Arthur Zajonc maintain that “Learning spaces need to be hospitable spaces not merely because kindness is a good idea but because real education requires rigor. In a counterintuitive way, hospitality supports rigor by supporting community…”and because of the way the two days in lush Asheville, NC were curated, Melibee provides real education through its focus on hospitality, rigor, and community.”   I’m drawn to details, and nothing in this event was without substance. Missy Gluckmann, founder of Melibee is THE definition of a warm, approachable and inclusive facilitator. She spoke confidently and respectfully, empowering the group to participate in ways that were authentic for each individual. The guest facilitators were just as fantastic, wholly echoing that the message is important, but not as much as the delivery and organization. Missy’s facilitating style acknowledges, accommodates and encourages all kinds of learners. Working in education we must not forget this. Why does this matter? What can you take away from this? How can you apply this to your work? Facilitating is both a gift and a skill, but an individual may have the gift and not the skill. This can change. I work with students from around the globe, and the exercises participants at Melibee experience provide tangible, actionable ways to lead a group and cultivate an atmosphere of learning and teamwork. The activities provide ways for a group to be at ease and comfortable with one another. When an individual feels and knows that they are a part of the community, they begin to identify with that relationship and they contribute to it, enlivening the community. This engagement is dynamic for the student’s growth, and for the staff’s growth. To return to Palmer and Zajonc, the authors champion “an epistemological assertion: we cannot know this communal reality truly and well unless we ourselves are consciously and actively in community with it as knowers.” Melibee is not just a launching pad toward real life, but as said in Sans Soleil, it was life, to be lived then, on the spot, and again because of that curation of Melibee, the experience is one that permeated through me and left a mark. It makes me strive to be a better facilitator and bring that to others in my professional and personal life. (M. Scanlon, American U of Beirut)

“I really enjoyed it and found it to be very meaningful in ways I could not have imagined – which is the best part because sometimes academic conferences feel so disconnected and like I know exactly what I’m in for in terms of being bored to tears or not moved or motivated. I learned more about myself too in observing my honest reactions to things. I am very grateful and being at the conference and participating gave me a good feeling. Thank you!”

No, that isn't a conga line! It was a warm up exercise to kick off last year's Swarm!
No, that isn’t a conga line! It was a warm up exercise to kick off last year’s Swarm!

“I have attended lots of conferences and have occasionally left feeling like I should have spent the money on something I would have liked better. The Swarm was a breath of fresh air in the world of conferences. The location, people, and general atmosphere added to that. I’m glad that I chose to attend the Swarm over other intercultural conferences because it was different and allowed me to be me while learning new techniques and meeting cool people. I didn’t feel the stress to buy new clothes or print up fancy business cards. I could throw some things in the suitcase and go. I felt like everyone was very kind and supportive and actually wished that we’d had more time together. You should be so proud of what you’ve started. Your bees will carry this nectar far and wide. “

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Some Swarmers hamming it up during a Day 2 break! Who says you can’t have fun while digging deep into culture?

“I thought the Swarm was really great. I am generally very type A, so having to be a bit more open and present was very useful for me.”

“The whole notion of attending conferences tends to be dreary to me, but this conference was not dreary. It flowed and was enjoyable. So I think you’re on to something valuable and necessary.”

A lighter moment during last year's Swarm.
Swarmer’s respond to a beautiful image presented during a cultural selfie exercise.

“AWESOME. I think everyone could benefit from this.”

“I came for the self-exploration and it was powerful and important and well-guided. I made a conscious decision to NOT do this for work because I needed it to be for me. Just so happens it also did give me some good tools for work and work I’d like to do. So for me, it was great approach. It could really focus on just the self enrichment and meeting the other participants who are so inspiring.”

Eventbrite - Melibee Global Swarm 2015

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