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Conference Dreams Do Come True

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 39 No. 6, December 2003 - January 2004, pp. 130-31.

As in 2001, the 2003 LLLI Conference budget allocated $10,000 to cover waived registration fees to be offered as scholarships. The Scholarship Committee, a subcommittee of the LLLI Conference Team, is responsible for distributing the scholarships. This work was accomplished by a team of 16 members-seven from the 2001 Committee, two new members, and seven Leaders who had received a 2001 Conference scholarship. We represented eight countries and a wide variety of LLL experience.

Distributing the scholarships is intense, but rewarding! Committee members agree that the highlight is the privilege of reading the applications; they feel a connection to the applicants and their pride in being part of this wonderful organization. As one committee member wrote, "The dedication of some of the long-term Leaders is awe-inspiring; the enthusiasm of newer Leaders is invigorating, and the honesty and trust portrayed by many scholarship applicants is humbling."

Applications were received from 22 countries. Of those applicants, 45 percent were new Leaders since the 2001 deadline for scholarship applications; 75 percent had never attended an LLLI Conference. Only two of the recipients had attended a previous LLLI Conference.

As we share some of the inspiring words of the applicants, those who wrote recommendations, and the recipients, may you feel connected and reaffirmed in the important work you do for mothers and babies through La Leche League.

She [the applicant] managed to combine mothering and working, however, as a very introspective person, this juggling act took its toll....This experience has made her very sensitive to the needs and sometimes conflicting desires of women. She's...good at listening to mothers struggle without having to "fix it" for them. Her skills as a bilingual and bicultural individual also help make her more open to different cultural needs.

I have never been to an LLLI Conference so I don't really know what to expect. Being a lone Leader in a small town, you get the feeling that you are all alone...attending the Conference...lets you know that you are a part of something big. I want to learn how to get community support for breastfeeding mothers. The more I learn, the more I can pass onto my community. And the more the community will accept breastfeeding as a normal way to mother a baby.

Although La Leche League's stated mission is to promote breastfeeding, LLL actually promotes a way of life that supports breastfeeding...by encouraging mothers to listen to their inner voice, to respond to their children's needs, and by treating mothers with respect no matter what choices they make. It is the "breastfeeding approach" to life reflected in many of the Conference topics. It is the "breastfeeding approach" to life that will transform our society into a breastfeeding friendly world. It is information about the "breastfeeding approach" to life that will keep nurturing LLL Group members long after they have stopped breastfeeding their own children. And, it is the "breastfeeding approach" to life that I see myself sharing with others.

After the Conference, the recipients were asked, "What highlight did you tell others about your Conference experience? What meant the most to you?"

Leaders, medical professionals, and others all united in their desire to inform, support, and encourage breastfeeding in their communities. In my part of the world, breastfeeding is not necessarily the norm and mothers feel isolated over decisions to exclusively breastfeed or breastfeed an older child. I hope to see some of the mothers in my La Leche League Group be encouraged to attend an LLLI Conference or see a Japan Area Conference become a reality.
(RuthAnna Mather, Japan)

Seeing, feeling and being rejuvenated in the wonderful world of parenting through LLL philosophy. The...great sessions giving help for parenting; the enthusiastic approach to parenting and mothering through breastfeeding so seldom experienced in my culture! I think in our effort to be "the world's foremost authority on breastfeeding," we sometimes forget this wonderful way of life we have in LLL.
(Margaret Turano, USA)

To have experienced "Strength through Diversity: Creating One Breastfeeding World." The whole Hilton hotel seemed to be invaded by three generations of one family whose members came together from all continents to watch, touch, listen to each other, and share old and new knowledge and experiences.
(Carola Beck, Bolivia)

Interacting with and meeting so many mothers of different cultures (and their families) who are as passionate as I am about breastfeeding and mothering....women who speak many different languages, but who share the common link of mothering through breastfeeding. The warm and sincere welcome that I felt both as a new Leader and as a Conference Scholarship recipient meant the most to me.
(Sylvia Santabella, USA)

Being surrounded by thousands of people from all over the world who share perhaps only one common belief: the importance of breastfeeding. Mothers, grandmothers, fathers, husbands, grandfathers, children, aunts, and uncles-they were all at this amazing event!
(Stacey Burger, USA)

To receive a scholarship and be in such a wonderfully organized group of women was one of the greatest experiences in my 33 years of helping mothers. The only thing better is to have a mother gain from any information I might have given her!
(Jane Morford Hill, USA)

Seeing and hearing the professionals in the world of breastfeeding....meeting women from all over the world who share the dream of one breastfeeding world....to bring back a wealth of ideas and enthusiasm to the Group and Area....my Conference experience will help us accredit knowledgeable, enthusiastic Leaders here in Israel.
(Hannah Katzman, Israel)

Meeting six of our seven Founders...to hear them tell their stories...to take the book Seven Voices, One Dream home with their autographs. Meeting... Leaders from all over the world, starting up friendships, and seeing people that I have not seen for a long time.
(Sabine Rossnick, Germany)

Attending sessions given by the people whose names I have seen in LLL materials for years. A Group for teen mothers is my passion so the session "Teen Breastfeeding Outreach" was the one I wanted to attend. Receiving the scholarship was like getting a thank-you for all the work I do for LLL and encouraged me to attend the International Mastery Symposium.
(Fiona Audy, Canada)

Being awarded the scholarship, which allowed our family to attend the Conference. Since only two Leaders from Kentucky attended the Conference, I feel honored to have had the opportunity. The Conference was simply amazing! I was very impressed with all the sessions...the very technical and those for my own enjoyment.
(Anita Witt, USA)

The contact with LLL Leaders of other nationalities, giving us the chance to create caring and loving relationships that will endure forever....being selected as a scholarship recipient. Representing LLL of Maceió, Brazil. Having a poster session where we can learn about breastfeeding projects and activities in other countries, as well as being able to present our own work [was a great opportunity].
(Pajuçara Marroquim, Brazil)

I...was encouraged by-and received courage from-knowing Leaders all over the world have overcome the differences of language and country with their united goal of providing breastfeeding support. "Breastfeeding" is the world's common language. I am glad from the bottom of my heart...that through my LLL work I am connected with Leaders and mothers around the world surpassing the differences of language and culture.
(Chisato Hikichi, Japan)

I'm a new Leader from Slovenia, Europe. Attending the LLLI Conference is one of the best ways to gain new knowledge, meet other Leaders, share experiences, and meet new friends. When I received a Golden Gate registration scholarship, my dream [of attending] came closer....Still, other costs for the Conference were very high for my family. Three months writing letters, emails, telephone calls, and organizing...and I attended the Conference. I've come home full of new knowledge, impressions, lots of new friends, and an empty wallet because I bought so many books. I'll be very glad to share my new knowledge with my co-Leaders, mothers, and my community.
(Karmen Mlinar, Slovenia)

It was an experience that moved me beyond words. Just as completing my leadership gave me a renewed sense that I can achieve my dreams, receiving the scholarship renewed my affirmation that the work I do really matters. I have been inspired to bring so much...back to the local LLL Group.
(Cindy Stewart, USA)

2003 LLLI Conference Scholarship Committee

Roni Anderson, USA
Sharon Barsotti, USA
Amy Davidson, USA
Elaine Dawson, South Africa
Petro Garcia, South Africa
Rebecca Magalhães, USA
Esme Nel, South Africa
Gina Nigro, Spain
Trevlynn Oberholster, Philippines
Shirley Phillips, Canada, Committee facilitator
Mary Roache, New Zealand
Terriann Shell, USA
Natalia Smith, Mexico
Nancy Spahr, USA
Maria (Pili) Peña Vazquez, Paraguay
Mary Wales, USA

2003 Conference Scholarship Recipients

New Leader Scholarship
Karmen Mlinar: Slovenia, ID, Future Areas in Europe

Leader for Over 10 Years
Fiona Audy: Canada, La Leche League Canada

Affiliates
Silke Ebling, LLLGB
Leslie MacDonald, LLLNZ
Sabine Rossnick, LLLD
Jill Shabsore-Aharon, LLLC

Eastern United States Division
Darcy Lynn Muhammad, New York East
Sylvia Santabella, North Carolina
Cindy Stewart, MA/RI/VT
Lynn Walauski, ME/NH
Anita Witt, Kentucky

International Division
Christine Athey, FAiE/Czech Republic
Silvia de Barco, Argentina
Carola Beck, FAiSA/Bolivia
Chisato Hikichi, Japan
Hannah Katzman, Israel
Pajuçara Marroquim, FAiSA/Brazil
RuthAnna Mather, FAiA/Japan
Katerina Michailidou, FAiE/Greece
Montserrat Garcia Shaad, Guatemala
Harumi Yamasaki, Japan

United States Western Division

Stacey Burger, Washington
Wanda Fulton, Alaska
Jane Ann Morford Hill, Idaho
Donna Lambert, Alaska
Margaret Turano, NCA/Hawaii

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