Leadership Lessons from Experiences of Innovations, Trauma and Grief


Through her own experiences of trauma and grief of her native Rwanda, Eliane shares insights on her leadership journey. Following is an excerpt from her article which was posted in the NY Times in Education online platform of “Leading Thoughts” where she mentions her experiences at the launch events for the Fuji Declaration in May of 2015. Eliane is an honorary signatory of the Fuji Declaration. She is Professor of Practice at McGill University and Executive Director of C.L.E.A.R. International Development Inc.

Eliane Ubalijoro-tokyo

Twenty one years after the genocide in Rwanda, I found myself with 10,000 others at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan reciting, “May peace prevail in every country on the planet” in each of their official languages. This gathering had been spearheaded in part by Masami Saionji for the Fuji Declaration launch to “light our way to a future that will witness the start of the conscious creation of a sustainable, humane, and spiritual civilization.” As the chairperson of the Goi Peace Foundation, Masami continues the work of her mentor Masahisa Goi who, after witnessing the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, devoted his life to pray for humanity and initiated the prayer, “May Peace Prevail On Earth.” Earlier that same week, a smaller group had gathered in Tokyo at the United Nations University hailing from different corners of the earth, across different disciplines. What I hold most dear of this gathering is the importance of designing and facilitating spaces for wisdom to emerge out of the uncertainty and richness of bringing very different people together to reflect on a common purpose.

The smaller group has spent the day listening to what brought each of us together, reflecting on seeds of change, shared visions and ideas for action we could engage in to nurture the Fuji Declaration’s intent, to revitalize our recognition of who we are, and how we relate to each other, to the earth, and to the cosmos.”

However we come into the world, we all face pain, loss and nudged we can all connect to a dream we have for ourselves and the world as well as the values we hold as a consequence. As I stood at the base of Mount Fuji reciting, may peace prevail on earth for each country in the world and watched the procession of flag bearers come down from the flanks of the mountain, and each at a time come on stage for the prayer recital in their official languages, different moment of my life rushed through my mind and heart. I saw myself in 1994, watching news reports on Rwanda feeling helpless. I saw myself stumble and move forward through the losses of my parents a decade later, going through career shifts, entering into motherhood and I felt myself connected to each person praying with me for humanity on this beautiful day in Japan as well as with the other 7,000 others who joined us through cyberspace. This made me realize that people have and will continue to gather in different places in the world praying for self and others for a wholeness aspired to that we sometimes have a chance to touch.

By: Éliane Ubalijoro

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