Updates from May, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Brigit Law 11:16 pm on May 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Journalism, , PTA   

    Kids Minds Matter 

    Last week, I started with a new – the second – team of Scottie Chronicle reporters, and this evening I finished their ‘Reporter Survival Pack’ with worksheets, letter to parents, Tips & Tricks in journalism, as well as the necessary candy treats, pens and block notes (see picture below).

    These groups of school kids are one of the best things I have experienced in my time in the US.

    Compared to Europe, the American PTA has amazed me. So much more support from parents seems to be needed here, and so much more can be achieved when parents and teachers work together. Compared to Europe where parental support is often limited to lice control, reading mom/dad or Christmas party, the American PTA opens doors to parents to set up Science Fairs, Book Fairs, National Reflections Art Awards programs, Spelling Bees, and much more.

    Inspired by the American spirit of ‘The Sky Is The Limit’ (as long as you are willing to execute your own ideas), I became the CEO of my own PTA program: The Scottie Chronicle – a school news paper for my kids’ Scotland Elementary school in Chambersburg, PA.

    Working with these kids brought me closer to my quest to understand better the way humans communicate. How much can kids critical minds bring to an organization, a community, a school? And, are we really listening to them? Can we let them lead us in how we should lead them?

    One thing is for sure, not listening to the perceptive minds of kids or watching them grow up with our full attention, will keep us falling behind in social development and economic prosperity.

    In the end it is like horse riding: you can only lead a horse if you let the horse educate you on it’s needs.

    20130507-234420.jpg

     
  • Brigit Law 4:57 pm on November 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bullying, , ISUBD,   

    Bullying: It’s a world wide challenge! 

    In the lead up to the International Stand-up to Bullying Day (ISUBD), the 5th graders of Mrs Zychal’s class at Scotland Elementary in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, did a great job in identifying the powers one needs to combat bullying. Laser vision, super hearing and transforming were some of them. (More …)

     
  • Brigit Law 11:31 pm on August 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cultuurverschillen, , Down Town Chambersburg, , Fundraising, Vrijwilligers   

    American Fundraising: surprisingly different 

    Today I strolled down the streets of Down Town Chambersburg searching for donations for a live and silent auction benefiting therapeutic horseback riding in my local community.

    It was hot and I felt like an ice cream melting away on the pavement every time I had to stop for a ‘don’t walk’, which was at least six times in one hour for the three blocks I was doing.

    While I was going from shop to shop gaining my new American experience, the nuisance of professional media got to me again. Expat life does this to me every time I see that the reality of life in a certain country is always better portrayed in the media.

    So, allow me to set something right in our believes about fundraising in America.

    (More …)

     
    • themysticmom 2:21 pm on August 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Having not yet traveled outside the US it was very interesting –and refreshing–to see the US through your eyes! I will be sharing this!! Always love your perspective on things, Brigit!!!

    • Lizzie's Words 10:46 pm on October 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Love the blog Brigit!

    • Gro 10:21 pm on November 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting to read, I appreciate the way you describe the challenges of being an european expat in the us

  • Brigit Law 10:32 pm on May 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Summer Reading Program   

    Summer Reading improves Creative Minds at Scotland Elementary 

    Dr Seuss, Walt Disney and Shakespeare: these are the three protagonists in the new Summer Reading Hand Book 2012 that I created in my new capacity of PTA chairperson for the Summer Reading Program 2012 at Scotland Elementary in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

    Over 400 copies are ready to go out to all students during this week’s Scholastic Book Fair.

    (More …)

     
    • themysticmom 1:50 pm on May 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      So proud to know you and all this hard work! You are AMAZING! (Plus, thinking on a grand scale might be another thing we have in common! Remind me to tell you THAT story another time… :))

    • DeniseDenkt 2:50 pm on May 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      What a beautiful and inspiring project is this! We should have that here in Holland too.
      I’m sure that all children will like this!

  • Brigit Law 3:16 pm on March 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gender Balance, , Muna Abu Sluyman   

    Balancing Out The Corporate World With Quotas 

    Last week a post from the Economic World Form showed up on my Facebook with Muna Abu Sluyman from Saudi Arabia sharing her ideas about gender and equality at the work floor.

    In her blog ‘Balancing Out The Corporate World’ she explains why mandatory quotas are needed to ensure that women join the decision makers in this world. I couldn’t agree more with her.

    Indeed, quotas are a crucial step to female empowerment in business with the end goal to achieve a better balance in decision making and, hence, finding solutions to the needs of a community or society at different levels of emotion. The latter – the goal – is often forgotten in the debate about this instrument, what a quota merely is. That is why we all, men and women, need to force ourselves to look beyond the instrument and understand better the goal we want to reach. This important worldwide debate should not be belittled or slowed down by some of the less flattering details of the instrument.

    In many instances, quotas are not very popular and stir up a lot of emotions. You only have to look as far as the Dairy and Fishing industry to see how quotas give people the creeps. But is that a reason not to use them?

    Don’t get me wrong, working with quotas is not a concept that I favor in principal and like to think we don’t need them. Regularly, my husband – a decision maker in industry – and I have tough discussions about it. On the other hand, why is it so difficult to accept that quotas help? Many woman – and I am one of them – just need that extra push get a sound and respectful female leadership community to look up to. Why? Because there is an urgent need for people and profiles we as women can more easily:

    • identify with,
    • admire, and
    • get inspired by.

    The key emotional ingredients for moving up and forwards in business, wouldn’t you say?

    I know, quotas feel like putting an elephant in a china shop. However, it is not unusual in business to put an elephant in a china shop in order to get things moving and shaking and more importantly, to get people to change their believes that are hidden far back in their mind and steer their unconscious behavior. So, quotas could be the hammer on a fragile nail that refuses to go in. Now, the challenge is to use the hammer in a subtle way.

    Back to the challenge of inspiration and perception. When I searched for images to go with this article I noticed how difficult it is to find images that portray the essence of this subject . If you Google on let’s say ‘Board Woman’, you get girls in bikini. Online magazines like Spiegel Online lack imagination with an awful image of a lake and mountains when covering the Norway Case in their article ‘Norway’s Experience Shows Compulsory Quotas Work’

    And another very sad image of a woman alone in a meeting room was shown alongside the article Norway’s New Quota: Corporate Board 40% Women Or Else!

    And what do you think about this awful image alongside another article from Spiegel Online ‘Gender Equality’.  The Dominatrix looks like a nicer person to work with than this woman …!

    And perhaps wort of all are magazines and blogs that do not even have an image with their articles on gender equality, such as Ignore the doubters. Norway’s quota on women in the boardroom is working

    Sadly it looks to me that the media wants us to believe that we have a long, muddy and indefinite path to go. Of course, it is nothing like that at all. It are all man who wrote these articles.

    What we need is a tsunami of contemporary images of women in this world doing their leadership job on a daily base. Women like the Principal of my kid’s elementary public school, Scotland Elementary School (PA), who steered the school into the top three ranking of public schools in the area.

    Windows of opportunities are opening for women, but for how long will they stay open? I am sure that this era of social practices and emotions will be followed up by a new one where men will claim their positions in leadership back, whether in a traditional or new format. The changing of the wheel goes fast. Change in business and society lays around the corner, all the time.

    And THAT, my dearest reader, is WHY we need QUOTAS as a mean to enhance Female Leadership.

     
    • gromykl 4:00 pm on May 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Couldn’t agree more! 🙂 Just wrote a similar blogpost a little while ago. Found this blog through twitter searching on expat, just started off as a expat spouse myself with a small child and are trying to find my way

    • Mike 1:38 pm on August 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Your first error is think that for start much people support female empowerment like something good for our society. Your second error is think that the end justifies the means, and it turns worse when you understand that the last objetive is not shared for most of the people. If you dare to break one of the few principles that is really accepted for most of the people like valid, like is formal equality, to be able to favour women ¿how would you defend yourself if appeared a new social-engineer ideology that conclude that its better for the society, men and women, return to the traditional sketch, and that the state must break the formal equality in order to get that?

      • Brigit Law 4:54 pm on August 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Mike, female empowerment, – or a women’s gateway to equal participation in working life as I prefer to call it – is not something one supports but merely confirms. It is like potty training a toddler: you need to give the toddler a potty to succeed. For woman’s equal participation you need to give her a quota to succeed.

  • Brigit Law 12:25 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Herald Mail, , Shippensburg, Spike Lee, ,   

    An Evening With Spike Lee 

    I am marking another American experience tonight: my evening with Spike Lee!

    Spike Lee is an American film director, producer, writer and actor. With his production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, he has been producing films since 1983. Lee is famous for the way he evolutionized the role of Black talent in cinema. Lee also directed commercials for Nike, Converse, Jaguar, Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry’s.

    Our meeting was not quite up close and personal, but with seat number J-109 in an almost sold out hall of the Luhrs Performing Arts Center in Schippensburg (PA) where he lectured about “The Cultural Diversity in America”, it was as good as it could get.

    As my friends know, everything that has to do with diversity has my attention. Since I left my home village in The Netherlands, I have been different myself. First and foremost as a country girl in a big city, but also as a Dutch girl living in other people’s countries and as a Dutch wife to a Scottish husband. Diversity is part of my daily life since I left home at 18 and it will be for children for whole their lives.

    Lee’s performance in Shippensburg tonight was great.  He is a wonderful and motivational speaker who tackles serious issues – the life of African-Americans – with a good sense of humor. He urged students to follow passion, not pay. To this end, Lee was happy to share his own personal experiences and challenges in life with his public, in particular his vision that you should choose a study and do a job you enjoy doing no matter what others (parents) say. “If you are driven in wanting to do something, do it!” was his advice to the public.

    However, his view on the stagnation of Afro-Americans can be disputed. Lee sees a stagnation in the life of African-Americans since the 40s when Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in her role as a maid in ‘Gone with the Wind’ and today, annu 2012, when African-Americans win again Academy Awards through actors Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer who played … maids again. To me this seems more a sign of stagnation in the life of women who are in a sleepy state of mind since the time of the suffragettes. At lease the African-Americans got their American President, the female society not (yet).

    I was also a bit disappointed about his answer to a young African-American guy in the public who explained his difficulties to make films due to lack of finance and closed doors in Hollywood. His answer was to persevere and to keep on believing in yourself and your drive (dream). My answer would be a question: where are the African-American businesses that should support African-American culture? It is not up to the ‘old’ Hollywood and its white face history to write and direct the screen plays that bring diversity in America to life. A drive is based on an emotional need, an urge and a passion. This can only be told through stories with with award winning roles of leaders in society played, written and produced by African-Americans themselves.

    In fact, it is all about empowering yourself to succeed with a group of people through ‘shared values’. A concept that focuses on the connections between societal and economic progress.

     
  • Brigit Law 10:55 pm on January 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    The Real Meaning of Nike’s ‘Just Do It!’ 

    Since my recent move to America (I am dutifully following my husband on his career path), so many famous slogans from world leading American films and product brands have become much clearer to me. In fact, most have a much deeper meaning than I could figure out from sole marketing when i was living in Europe. For example, I thought that the ‘Just Do It’-slogan from Nike was something like a sport related yell, but I know now that it is part of the American way of living. Or at least that is my perception of it.

    Cultural differences do go deep, I know from previous moves to different countries. So deeply that it stirs up ones emotions completely. Through better and worse I have learned that the best way to overcome these is to plunge yourself into the way of life of the people surrounding you as soon as possible after you set foot on the soil that is your new, temporary, home.

    That’s why, since moving to Pennsylvania last summer, I have stepped into volunteering at several local organizations. Mainly to get settled into live here quickly, partly to keep my professional skills alive and kicking while not working. As a Dutch woman, I am amazed about the easygoingness of ‘getting things done’ here. The only thing is that you have to do it yourself! Just Do It seems to me a real emotional and cultural representation of the American people and I admire Nike for this. As former advertising and communication professional, I normally see lots of shallow creativity.

    The first time I had to ‘deal’ with Nike’s ‘Just Do It!’ was with my first side job as personal assistant of the President of the Standards and Certification Committee of the EBA (European Business Association) in Moscow. To get around the new legislation that all English text and slogans on products in Russia should be in Russian language, Nike opted for just dropping the ‘Just Do It!’ and let their symbol, the “swoosh”, speak for itself. It’s a great example of creative leadership in business.

    Now, when I sit in committee meetings in local Pennsylvania, the first reaction I get from my new American friends and colleagues on my ideas for doing something different is: “That sounds great Brigit. Do you want to Do It?”

    And you know what, after three years of working as an independent consultant in the complex and hierarchical Brussels networks, this ‘Just Do It’ American attitude gives me a real sense of empowerment – the one that is embedded truly and deeply into human society as opposed to the politically driven one – , inspiration, commitment and creative freedom, professionally as well as personally. Nike’s new ‘Just Do It’ Beijing campaign, The Courage Within, is so true to human nature. I will still not buy more Nike, but I respect the brand more now I know more about its home country.

    It’s great that after only six months here, I have found something American and meaningful that I will treasure and take with me on my next adventure when we will move back to Europe in a couple of years – or anywhere else.

    So, if you have lots of ideas and want to see them materialize, then do like me the following:

    1. Get (the courage to get) off your bottom

    2. Get ready for action

    3. Don’t stay floating on the surface of cultural differences, let yourself drown into it – real deep

    4. Be resilient every minute of the day (keep on smiling and ‘keep the glass half full’, no matter what)

    5. Join or create networks where people challenge you to ‘Just Do It!’

    Thank you Nike, thank you America!

     
    • Mariska 8:56 am on January 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Very recognizable story! I remember my 4 months studying in Budapest in the 90’s where I met Lilly. In the middle of the turning times in Eastern Europe there was a profound sense of ‘Stay where you are and don’t move’ amongst the young people that were stuck in their old communist habits. Lilly, coming from the US with only a basic course in design, applied for a art director job at a major international advertising agency and got the job! How’s that for a first entry on your CV!
      So there I got it. Just do it. It takes you places you can’t imagine…

    • themysticmom 8:14 pm on April 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Love it, Brigit! True represenation of both you and the American culture! 🙂

    • themysticmom 8:15 pm on April 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Very nice, Brigit! Very accurate representations of both you and the American culture! The rest of it probably should be…”if you don’t Do It, someone else will!” 🙂

  • Brigit Law 4:13 pm on November 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Thank You America 

    In the wake of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the warm welcome we received from colleagues, school staff, neighbors, friends and family upon our recent arrival in the US as an expat family. It inspires me to reach out to the local community and to put my energy and time in supporting education activities and advancing therapeutic riding programs.

     
  • Brigit Law 2:02 am on November 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Storytelling, Scarecrows and More yields Diverstiy at Elementary School in Pennsylvania 

    How I used Storytelling, scarecrows and more at a school Fall Festival to teach children about Diversity …

    Read article here.

     
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