And Then The Panic Sets In

The other day, the incoming fellows received welcome emails from the Rotary Peace Center Specialist, University of Queensland program officer, area host coordinator and a few of the current fellows. In them, we received more details and timeline reminders as well as a request for short bios and photos.

I was feeling pretty grand about the whole thing. I had overcome some major obstacles in securing a passport for X, arranged foster care for the animals we have to leave behind and already started in on boxing up and clearing out household items that we are not taking with us.

And, true: my house-packing-in-progress does currently look like this:

junk house

but nonetheless, I felt quite on top of things (though my dog, Macho, seems less sure of my process).

Then, I began writing my bio. To get an idea of how to structure it, I scrolled through former fellows’ pages online. And got nauseous.

These are AMAZING women and men. Many have already been working in high-level positions in various peacework organizations, and most have prior international study and work experiences. They are brilliant and accomplished, and are all exactly the type of people you would trust to create a new world peace movement.

I was awash in simultaneous waves of gratitude, humility and a resounding impostor complex. Who made the mistake of inviting me into this prestigious club? How could my experiences possibly compare to theirs? Will they think I’m a fraud? Why did I think this was a good idea?

For the first time in this process, I found myself scrambling backward. It felt suddenly too big, too important. And I, too small and incompetent.

But, if for no other reason than times like this, nature granted me the dubious gift of stubbornness. I pecked out my bio as best as I could, and sent along the photo that accompanies my political blog work. It’s not flashy like some I had seen. I am not wearing a suit and I am not smiling alabaster veneers, head tilted at that just so angle that lets them know you are friendly but also down-to-business.

My picture is taken from below, by my son, and it looks like I may have been in the middle of telling him something. It’s a little soft, a little raw- a lot like me.

I am about to launch my family on the adventure of a lifetime- one I feel hopelessly unprepared for. As I cried to my husband last night, “Opportunities like this don’t happy for people like me.” All he said in reply was “Well, now they do.”

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Leanne works with very young children (3-11yo) in peace education, cultural awareness and food justice, and also takes freelance assignments in documentary video and socio-political blog writing. She holds a BA in Child Development, with a concentration in child rights, a BS in Spanish, and is on leave-of-absence from a MA program in Peace & Conflict Studies.

In 2009, she took an internship that had her embedded with migrant farmworking families in Southeastern United States. Through this experience she developed a better understanding of the intersections between food access, migration and conflict.

Using documentary arts, oral history, and creative nonfiction- Leanne continues to advocate for and ally with local and international groups to share healing and reconciliatory narratives. Her work has taken her to Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia and highlights the effects of transnational corporations and policies on violence, scarcity and immigration.

Another experience that impacted her direction was a week-long full-immersion conflict simulation, staged through a collective of universities’ Peace & Conflict Masters Degree programs. In this, participants were required to design and build a humanitarian space in an active conflict zone, manage wounded and cholera-stricken refugees, and negotiate with government agents, military officials, prison wardens and leaders of an opposition militia group. In this, Leanne realized a passion for emergency management, and a focus on stabilization and safety of women and children in fragile zones.

The mother of two young boys, Leanne can often be found climbing trees, riding bicycles and all-around adventuring. In her “spare” time, she writes and is in the process of editing a memoir.