| Dear Colleagues, |
In the Metro last week as I traveled to work, I made room to allow a young woman wearing a hijab to sit next to me. Absorbed in my own thoughts, my own distress about the executive order that had just been announced banning refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, I realized I did not know what to say or do,
beyond having made room. I wanted to reach out to this young woman and, for a moment, I truly felt helpless, frozen in time and space. Then, realizing the moment might pass me by, I said simply, “How are you? I’m sorry. It’s so sad.” The young woman smiled, thanked me, and told me that she had been feeling lonely. I was the first to reach out to her and she was surprised and grateful. My heart was touched. I felt useful, fully reflecting my precious roles as fellow citizen and, as always, nurse.
Metaphorical walls that conflict with the core values of the NLN (caring, integrity, diversity/inclusion, and excellence) seem to be going up everywhere. There is shouting, whispering, disingenuous and hateful rhetoric, and a growing climate of fear that seeps through any walls. We can help put an end to that, colleagues. As nurses, we are taught to listen, to reach out to others, to break down walls and barriers.
That is our special skill and we must use it, even when we are uncertain. At our recent NLN Board of Governors meeting we held a board development discussion regarding courageous dialogue. That means, begin by asking questions, listen, and learn to understand the perspectives, the journeys, of others. Courageous dialogue transcends political party, race, gender, religion, and all the other differences we may have.
It is helpful to remember the words of the psychiatrist Henry Stacks Sullivan: “All of us are much more human than otherwise.” Look around – the diversity of our country is vivid. In cities like Washington, Miami, Houston, Chicago, or LA, it’s the first thing we see. But even in the smallest towns of America, where you least expect it, there are people whose families fled
hardship to come to this country – last year, a generation ago, or further back – and everyone has a story to tell. As an African American, I always look for the black community when I’m in a small town. It is often hidden away across a railroad track, once seen as a wall between us and them.
In February we celebrate Black History Month. As it reminds us to recognize the central role of African Americans in US history, let it also remind us to engage with others and have courageous conversations with the diverse individuals, families, and communities that make up our world.
It’s a month to reflect on the civil rights of others and the message “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (women) are created equal.” Let’s commit to making this a 12-month reality ¬ 365 days, 8,760 hours – every moment of our lives.
In a few weeks the NLN will release “A Vision for Expanding US Nursing Education for Global Health Engagement.” In it we use the term glocal, which the Oxford Living Dictionary defines as “reflecting or characterized by both local and global considerations.” Colleagues, it’s the idea that we don’t have to travel abroad to encounter, appreciate, care for, and work with those who are “international.” Across the street in our own communities there are first and second generations of neighbors who come from global origins.
What better time is there for us to reaffirm the NLN’s commitment to leading diversity and inclusion efforts that advance the health of our nation and the global community? In fact, those very words are in our mission: to promote excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the health of our nation and the global community. Speak up, speak out, and speak with the wonderful diversity of our country.
I’ll talk more about the implications of the NLN’s latest Vision Statement in my next message. In the meantime, let me remind you that applications for the NLN Academy for Nursing Education are due on February 15. Look over the requirements – you still have time to apply. Be encouraged, excellence in nursing education is just an application away. At this time, we need visionary leadership from those in and outside the profession who contribute to nursing education in sustained and significant ways.
Did you know that the academy is 10 years old? We’ll kick off that celebration at the Summit in San Diego in September. Join us and don’t miss it. We were born for times like these. Be the extraordinary nurse/nurse educator you are.
All the best,
Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Executive Officer