Traveling the world engaging with diverse people has contributed to my life in immeasurable ways.
Learning how other people live, think and act has greatly increased my understanding and appreciation for the extraordinary richness of humanity. By expanding our perspective we unleash possibility. Stepping out of our comfort zone opens the door to innovative solutions and paths to abundance. Our purpose becomes clear.
Conflict, hurt and distrust cause division in our relationships, teams, organizations, communities and nations. Bringing people together to engage courageously in transformation conversations heals divides. We can all be inspired and learn from stories of Bridge Builders who have stepped out of their comfort zones to engage and embrace others to bring people together across culture, class and race.
Follow my Navigating Change blog to learn more about these and additional inspiring experiences…
eastern europe 2022
Three weeks into the major escalation of Russia’s War on Ukraine, I traveled to Eastern Europe with a multi-cultural team to bring non-combatant aid and comfort to refugees. (The invasion has caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since WWII, approximately one third of the population has been displaced and approximatelly 7 million Ukrainians have fled the country.) Working in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine, we experienced the horrors of war and the hope and gifts in service of humanity; it was a truly life-changing experience.
Our multi-cultural team were guests of the Honorable Abike Dabiri—Erewa, Chairman / CEO of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission and Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammad Buhari. Experiencing the chaos of the infrastructure of Lagos, walking the Slave Trail to the Point of No Return in Badagry and meeting with the Vice President of the country in Abuja gave us all new perspectives. Here is a short documentary of our team meeting the King of Badagry and walking the Slave Trail to the Point of No Return.
South Africa 2011
While traveling to South Africa with Dr. David Anderson and a multi-cultural team, we celebrated the 80th birthday of Desmond Tutu with his family and shared the privilege of hearing the Archbishop’s last sermon. Additional highlights of this trip included standing in Nelson Mandela’s jail cell, working with children’s literacy in Soweto and attending Desmond Tutu’s Leadership Conference in Cape Town.
North Korea 2011
We lived in Seoul Korea during my husband’s Air Force assignment. He held three senior roles including responsibility for activities in the DMZ, Republic of Korea. Living with the monthly 2pm air raid sirens signaling practice drills for possible N. Korean attack and traveling to the DMZ exposed me to the realities of living in a county divided. Witnessing the heart-ache of oppressed people experiencing food insecurity and shortages of basic necessities has put many geopolitical dialogues in great perspective for me since that time.
Working to advance literacy amongst millions of people was eye opening. Meeting young Renu – who amidst great personal risk and sacrifice was teaching women to read so they could better take care of their families health, nutrition and well-being was inspiring and convicting. Sunrise on the river Ganges in Varanasi gave us a breathtaking view of the rituals of death and mourning for Hindus.
Dee Caffari and fellow America3 Women’s Teammate Kate Pettibone were invited to coach a group of women in Oman– who had never been on the water– to compete in the grueling 1200 mile Sailing Arabia Tour. The tour spans six countries along the Arabian Coast over 20+ days. At the beginning of this experiment the men would not enter the gym when the women were present or talk to them on the dock. But after racing against the women in a 40 knot severe storm, the men saw them as sailors. The team became role models for women’s empowerment and gained respect for what they could do outside of the accepted norms. Cultural breakthroughs on and off the water opened doors for them and their families.
In my first service trip abroad back in the 80’s I experienced poverty at a level I had not seen in the US. Migrant workers living on the large corporate plantation in lean-tos with corrugated metal roofs. A highlight for them of the dinner we shared was to take the large cans from the beans as they would become cooking pots. As I stood on the escalator in LAX on the way home I had a moment of conviction – I could either hold this trip as an interesting experience with fun people – or let it become a life challenge to me to learn about others and work to share their stories with others.