One of these amazing elders is my mentor, Barbara Poley. I first met Barbara when I started volunteering for The Hopi Foundation in 2007, I then was encouraged to apply for the Hopi Leadership Program. I am the youngest participant to date for this important program, and so much of my growth is from mentors who believe in me and invest in my growth. I now work for The Hopi Foundation with Monica Nuvamsa and many other leaders that Barbara has mentored.
One key learning from our retreat and time with Barbara that I would like to share is her guidance to keep deep confidence in the strength and true wealth of our cultures. She said that when she began to travel away from home, that she learned that people considered how she grew up was to be ‘in poverty’ because of her income level. She said growing up she never felt hungry, sad or deprived, and that she had all the beauty of the teachings of her cultures. She said to always focus on the beauty of our peoples and communities, and to not adopt an outsiders deficit-only perspective. We do need financial resources and there are ways we can grow these in partnerships that honor the beauty of our cultures and communities as assets.
You can learn more about Barbara’s leadership journey at this link!