At the end of August, SLDI participants from Zambia, Nigeria, Tanzania and other countries in Africa met with Executive Director Sr. Draru Mary Cecilia, LSMIG, to discuss their progress in the programs via Zoom. There are 20 participants from 19 different congregations participating in this portion of the SLDI program.
Sister Tryphina Burchard introduced the participants in Zambia, noting that while some sisters are studying in Zambia, they represent other countries including Kenya, the Congo and Tanzania.
After introductions, ASEC SLDI participants took time to express what they have learned in the Basic Technology workshop and how they will use these skills to make community improvements moving forward. Many spoke to the idea of not understanding the uses of Microsoft products or social media platforms, and now that they do, they feel less intimidated by them. They explained that the workshops gave them knowledge on the proper uses of computer applications to help assist a congregation’s mission.
Sr. Pasca Mary, an SLDI participant, explained how Microsoft applications can help ministries record their records.
“I gained a lot through Word, Publisher, Excel, and Powerpoint … I am working as a teacher in the school to record and to form a systematic letter to my superiors and to all those coming to our convent … I am happy, and I thank Mama ASEC for this great opportunity, where I gained a lot of knowledge.”
Many sisters took the time to explain individually what they learned from the workshop and how valuable it will be to their ministries and communities moving forward. They expressed gratitude for having been selected for the program and for the opportunities available to them. More than one sister referred to feeling empowered by knowledge, less afraid to use technology, and excited about new opportunities that can aid their missions.
Sr. Pasca also spoke to the programs she didn’t believe could be used by women religious successfully, such as social media, and how she’s now learned that is not true.
“And also, when I think of social media, I was having the wrong notion of it, feeling that being religious we were not able to get into more because it is not good for your life. But now our teachers have made more impact and to handle it wisely and prudently.”
Congregations have been discussing how they can use social media platforms to share their mission and the work they are doing with the world, with more and more sisters understanding safe ways to communicate with their communities.
Not only did the Basic Technology workshops help teach sisters about various platforms and uses for the computer, but they also recognized that computer knowledge can help with trouble-shooting. By giving sisters the opportunity to understand how to use technology it opens up new worlds of problem solving and an easier way to obtain knowledge. Sr. Caroline explained,
“Something more I've gained is trouble-shooting in case of a problem. Before looking for a computer technician, the internet has become my professional teacher, so I can browse anything I need at any moment at any time.
ASEC SLDI staff members Rosemary Shaver, Nicole Vilogi-DiPietro and Sneh Akruvala, who work diligently to enroll students, provide documentation and assure the programs are running smoothly, were in attendance for the call. Each took a moment to thank the sisters for their hard work, dedication and feedback. They also thanked the country coordinators for their consistent efforts of providing needed documentation and surveys on behalf of the ASEC Sisters.
Sr. Draru (“Momma ASEC”) wrapped up the meeting by examining text from the Scriptures. In particular, she spoke about a time when Jesus felt helpless to teach due to the pressure of mounting crowds around him. She explained that in order for him to teach and share his message, he would have to create a separation from the crown in some way in order to get others to listen and for him to have the room to project his voice. She explained that sometimes we need to separate ourselves to gain clarity and education in order to voice our teachings in a more impactful way. If one is too close to the crowd then the message can get lost in a sea of voices.
She spoke also of the importance of collaboration and how so many people can benefit from it. She reminded sisters that it is not about any particular individual, but rather how individuals who come together to collaborate can take part in a mission that benefits many rather than just one.
Click here to learn more about the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program.