Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Three Days

Catherine Johnson 
Director, EVAW International Board of Directors

Three days.  That’s the length of the End Violence Against Women International Conference. Three days to connect with like-minded individuals – individuals collectively working to end gender-based violence.  Three days of not feeling alone while doing this work.  Three days to re-energize before returning to our communities and getting back into the fight.

The awards, plenaries, and breakouts that followed the inspirational opening ceremony provided attendees with the opportunity to gain new insights and advanced training in the response to gender-based violence.  The seated lunches, break-times, and evenings provided everyone with the opportunity to network with allied partners from all over the world.  It is here that relationships are built, new friends are made, old friends are reunited, and minds are expanded.  It is where attendees discover the reality that there are others who think similarly. 

The stories shared, both in the training sessions and after, never fail to move me.  Experiences like Jennifer Nadler’s set to the background of Linkin Park. The raw truths. The raw experiences. The strength and fortitude that is sometimes hidden and other times bare and uncovered.  The capacity of the human spirit is awe-inspiring.

Lastly, throughout the conference there were opportunities for fun.  A photo booth allowed people to take fun photos and capture memories.  Vendors gave away samples and educated attendees on the latest and greatest in training and technology.  Laughter was the evening background music and could be heard from the restaurants, conference rooms, and lobbies.  The sound of real connections being made filled the air.

Three days does not sound like a lot of time, but those three days can be life changing. If you did not make it to the conference in Chicago last month, plan to spend 3 days with us (or 4 if you join us for the post-conference), April 22-24th, 2019, in San Diego. For many of you, your kids or friends might be on Spring break.  Make it a vacation.  I promise you will leave changed!