Thursday, December 8, 2011

Re-Entry: An Ending and Beginning

I recently returned home. It feels so good to be reunited with my family after three months apart. I missed them so much since they left India. I was greeted at the Omaha airport with my girls holding hand-made signs that said “Welcome Home Dada!!!” and showing a map of India, a plane flying over an ocean toward North America with a drawing of two girls and beautiful woman awaiting that plane. Sure enough, my daughters came running down the corridor and bowled me over with hugs and kisses followed by a nice one from my wife.

Coming back has been wonderful… and difficult. Like any experience of significant adventures and inevitable life-changes, it is hard to come back to a place where few people know about, and fewer still truly understand, what you have been through. Thankfully, my family was with me for the first two months of that adventure, so they (mostly) get it.

We had a great vacation to Los Angeles to visit my wife’s family for Thanksgiving. That was a warm respite – highlights being visiting LEGOLand with the kids and their cousins, Thanksgiving dinner with everyone gathered, and especially spending time with Aviva’s 95-year old grandmother who is still going strong – before the snowy winter weather set in here in Nebraska. All these blessings remind me that there is so much to give thanks for this year!

Sharing India Insights
I am keynote speaker at events such as the World Affairs Council 40th Anniversary Dinner, B’nai B’rith Breadbreakers, and the Fremont Area Community Foundation’s Annual Dinner ( I welcome more of those opportunities in the coming months. Sharing my photos and stories is always fun. And the goals of the Fulbright program are not only to represent the USA when scholars, practitioners and artists go abroad, but also to bring the learnings from those other countries back home to the USA.

Some of the ways I have packaged those insights include:
  • ·         Understanding Water Conflicts and How to Resolve Them
  • ·         Community Foundations Worldwide
  • ·         Gandhi’s Trusteeship and The Omaha Way
  • ·         What We Can Learn from India’s Social Entrepreneurs
  • ·         Judaism in a Democratic India
  • ·         Does India’s Rise Mean America’s Fall?

I look forward to sharing my India insights in many other forums and formats as appropriate to the audiences’ interest. And I hope to leverage some of those presentations in order to open up doors for consulting and teaching gigs.

The Last Week in India
My last week in India was a crescendo of activity. I hung out with fellow Fulbrighters, attended a concert of the Sufi Gospel Project, went to tea with my landlord and landlady, and said goodbye to my colleagues at Sampradaan Indian Centre for Philanthropy. I guest lectured on “Conflict Management” to MBA students at Raffles University and on “Sustainable Development and Philanthropy” to Masters of Sustainable Development students at TERI University.

I also had the pleasure of hosting my great friend Krish Raval. I met Krish in Caux, Switzerland in 1996 when I was a Caux Scholar ( Krish now serves on the board of Initiatives of Change with me. He is of Indian origin, born in Ethiopia and raised in the U.K. He founded an organization called Faith in Leadership and is an international expert and executive coach on leadership issues.

Krish and I co-presented a workshop at Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH), one of the leading graduate universities of management in India. With little preparation, we skillfully wove together leadership, conflict resolution and philanthropy themes in our presentation. We hope to return to India to teach and consult in the future. Besides the wonderful synchronicity that Krish and I had when guest lecturing, it was just wonderful to have an “old” friend with me as I ended my amazing adventure in India.

Next Steps
I am excited about how this next chapter is evolving. In it, my hope is to find a mix of activities that play to my strengths: consulting, teaching, research and writing.

After a vacation to visit my family in Portland, I will begin teaching a new course at University of Nebraska at Omaha called, “The International Politics of Donors, Development and Disputes.” This picks up on the three themes of my Fulbright – donors or philanthropy; development, especially social entrepreneurs or grass-roots community change efforts as opposed to top-down projects such as the World Bank or USAID funds; and, disputes, in particular water conflicts – and will be a great way to process so much of what’s been on my mind.

In addition to the organizational strategy consulting that I have done for the past 20 years with businesses, nonprofits and government, I am also launching a new consulting firm focused on congregational conflict resolution. This will be a partnership with Rabbi Jonathan Gross. We are excited about this venture. Do you know of any churches, synagogues, mosques or faith-based organizations and federations that could use coaching, workshops, trainings or mediation services?  

Thank you for following my blog. Whether you have read one or all of the entries posted here, you have shared my journey. I appreciate you being a fellow traveler!

I would like to hear of your adventures. Please email or call 402-561-0236.

Peace to you and all you come into contact with on your continuing journeys….