Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Lisa Booth, the founder and executive director of World Education Connection. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hey, Lisa and welcome to the blog! What challenge are you and World Education Connection addressing?
Lisa: It’s wonderful to connect, Spiffy, and to share what we do at World Education Connection (WEC). Even though you are an interplanetary journalist from a different planet, I believe all of us share the desire to feel connected and accepted as our true selves. This can be very hard because we fear being judged or not fitting in when we expose who we truly are—inside and out. Conversely, we often make quick judgments about people before we know anything about them. WEC encourages children to lean in and explore areas where they can find connection with themselves, their local peers, and global teammates.
Spiffy: You’re absolutely right about that! What motivated you to found WEC?
Lisa: Two things motivated me to develop WEC. Early in my life, I had a strong desire to fit in and wasn’t always comfortable in my own “skin.” I often did what I thought people wanted me to say and do, simply to be like them. I thought that’s what I needed to do to feel good about myself. Because of that, I strayed further from my true self and felt even more uncomfortable. The other reason is that connection has been very powerful in the lives of our WEC core team. We’ve felt the strength that comes from true connection and have a desire to plant those seeds in children early on.
Spiffy: Can you elaborate on how you and the WEC are working towards a more equitable world?
Lisa: At WEC, we envision a more connected world regardless of distance, a world where all children are seen, heard and valued. Connection is created in the classroom next door, or a world away—deeply rooted connection where the 10,000 miles or 16,000 kilometers separating global teams is not a factor in determining the strength of that connection. Equality can be achieved, but there is no equity without respecting and acknowledging the value of and the unique gifts within each person. A more equitable world begins with connection, and WEC strives towards that goal by providing tools all children can access.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent company milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?
Lisa: After operating in the U.S. and Tanzania, WEC pulled back to rework our roadmap and focus on how best to guide our young global teams on their connection journey. Our core team of education specialists, teachers, and mental health professionals focused on developing our primary connection tool, the Journey to Connection Journal, a workbook that offers multiple ways for children to discover and connect with themselves and each other. They explore nature, music, and personal challenges individually and then together. We plan to test the Journal in live classrooms in September 2022.
Spiffy: That sounds awesome! Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Lisa: After being quite successful in our initial three years, WEC was excited about rapid growth. We doubled the number of schools every year! Our focus was on growing fast to help connect more children worldwide. What we failed to realize was that we could not keep up that pace, and what we were doing was not sustainable. We slowed down the past few years to work on building a business model that will last, solidifying our foundation to build on it in ways that will create a sustainable, strong organization. We learned that “fast” does not always last, and failure is just another word for learning.
Spiffy: What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
Lisa: Recently I was reminded about the special, tender love and connection between animals and humans. I see a lot of homeless people on my route to and from work. Last month, I was stopped at a red light when I looked over to my right. On the sidewalk I saw a homeless man wearing dirty, ripped clothing with disheveled hair, kneeling on the sidewalk and tenderly petting a small puppy. The very gentle way he connected with the puppy, and the excited response the puppy gave him, reminded me of the special kind of unconditional love we as humans get from pets. I saw the man smile.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Lisa: Days before a World Education Day of Connection event (an event that connects all our global teams “live”), we learned of a tragic school bus crash in Arusha, Tanzania. That particular school was not part of WEC, but we knew we had to support the community at large. We rallied globally to raise relief funds. Our Tanzanian team delivered mental health support to surviving students, provided a financial donation to each affected family, and donated sports equipment to the school. It was then I truly understood that when we are connected and collaborate with others, almost anything is possible.
Spiffy: Beautiful, and true, words. Thanks for speaking with me today, Lisa—it’s been an honor!
Lisa Booth is the Founder and Executive Director of World Education Connection. She is a wife and mother to two wonderful kids and two loveable dogs. She is an Emmy-winning Casting Director in daytime television. She is a dreamer who believes that we all deserve to be seen, heard and valued, and is on a mission to plant seeds of connection globally. (Nominated by Mihai Patru at Caravanserai Project. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 23, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.