The 2018 World MUSE Conference was held from 1st to 4th of March 2018 at The Tower Theatre in Downtown Bend, Oregon, with days of insightful and eye opening presentations from almost 30 keynote speakers and performers. It was my first time to attend the Muse conference and I was so excited about being a presenter. Before travelling, I almost told everyone close to me that I am going to world Muse and that I had gotten an opportunity to speak about some of the work I do in Kenya. As much I was excited, I was nervous too about the presentation, being a panel discussion with one of the most famous writer, creative, and certified yoga instructor Shanan Kelly. My presentation went through several rounds of revisions in my head, but finally I was all set to go. I thank the Cowgirls who were getting all logistics organized in Bend so that my family and I have a good stay. I must very much thank Amanda Cudd Stuermer and her team for their guidance and for approving my participation at the 2018 Muse conference. I was glad to be there from the first day when we watched a film by two young Palestinian activists the Radiance of Resistance. This was one of the most touching and thought provoking film which left me with questions in my heart like what can I do to help as an individual?. The film concluded with a Skype conversation with 11 year old Janna Jihad in the West Bank Palestine who requested the conference attendees to always remember them in prayer and work hard towards making the world a better, safe and peaceful place for all.
The second day was packed with Salon Series which gave participants the opportunity to discuss issues that directly affect women and girls locally and internationally. This was a great day to meet and network with different speakers, organizers and attendees as well as listen to powerful messages from different speakers sharing the work they do in their communities. One most amazing segment was the Art Show which contained photography exhibits with strong messages by the Muse teens. The main conference program featured a selection of change-makers. The Muse Director Amanda welcomed the audience and invited them to meditate on the question, Why are you here? This year’s conference theme was in this Moment….. This was so evident throughout the day’s many amazing moments. The speakers were so extraordinary with good diversity that it was hard for one to leave the room for even a minute as this meant missing out on something incredible like an opportunity, awareness or a strong message that could change your life and how you see the world today. Some of the day’s highlights for me from the phenomenon Women and Men speakers among many others was the interview with Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo campaign. She spoke to the opportunities for healing within the movement.
The conference ended on a high note with speaker Betty Reid Soskin, the 96 year old author, activist, Park Ranger who stole all of our hearts and gave us the perfect advice to end the day. She surprised many when she said at 96 she is still having first experiences. Her last message to all attendees was: on, “I think the secret is to live in the now…at 96 years old, I am currently living in a state of surprise.” I could not end the day before visiting artist Julie Keefe who had set up a table for locals and visitors to participate in her project, messages to a president. Here individuals could write a message to the President directly onto a portrait of themselves taken right there and then and of cause I had a message to a president concerning Africa!
Apart from attending the conference I had an opportunity to do some sightseeing in bend with beautiful sceneries of mountains, forests, some famous breweries and travel to Portland as well. I did not however get a chance to ski as I was under the weather with a really bad flu and cough. I was blessed and privileged to be one of the presenters from Africa and this made me remember a quote by – Jeff Warner that “We are not put on this earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.” let us work together towards making the world a better and safe place for all.