What could the title of this blog possibly mean? Which Hillary? And, why am I dancing?
No, this is not a mistaken headline. The “Hillary” I am referring to is none other than U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And, while the “Dances with Hillary” plays upon my heritage of being part Native-American, I was indeed dancing recently with the Secretary of State in the Treaty Room of the U.S. State Department.
And, no, again, I am not hallucinating. I am just glowing with pride and satisfaction following the July U.S. graduation of 24 of the 2012 PEACE TROUGH BUSINESS® program graduates. It was a jam-packed few weeks that included meeting dignitaries from Afghanistan and Rwanda, as well as politicians and business leaders from our own nation. The students’ three weeks in the U.S. included business and leadership training at Northwood University in Cedar Hill, Texas; a one-week-long one-on-one mentorship with business people in their particular industries throughout the country; the International Women’s Economic Summit in Washington, D.C., graduation from the program; and an amazing private meeting with Secretary Clinton.
Arranged through my wonderful contacts at the State Department, all of the 24 students, some of staffers, and myself were told that Secretary Clinton could possibly be available to have a private meeting with us on July 24. We didn’t actually know until the last minute if this would happen; after all, she can be called away on a moment’s notice. We got the word that the meeting would be a go. We literally ran across the street starting at 1:30 pm on July 24, and went through about 30 minutes worth of metal detectors at the State Department after background checks were done on all of us before the meeting. Fortunately, our conference was held at the United States Institute of Peace, which was very conveniently located across the street from the State Department on Constitution Avenue.
The Treaty Room was majestic. After being welcomed by my dear friend, Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues in the Office of the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton emerged from her office. She and the Ambassador congratulated the students on their accomplishments, wished them well as they prepared to return to their countries as empowered business owners, and offered them the greatest in hospitality. We all posed together for photos.
All of a sudden, the Rwandan women began serenading the Secretary with a native song about the beauty of women and girls. Two of the women approached her and began performing a native dance. Secretary Clinton did the only thing she could do. She took their hands and began dancing with them. The Ambassador and myself joined in – the three of us smiling from ear to ear as we all danced together. The room broke out into applause and the dancing continued for a few minutes.
My eyes now fill with tears of joy as I look back upon the last few weeks. We said good-bye and good luck to another brave and determined graduating class from the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program – our sixth to be exact. I know they will lead their communities into greatness. And, I have a wonderful story of international diplomacy and some pretty cool dance moves to share with future graduating classes, as well as my friends and family.
So, there you have it—“Dances with Hillary” – lovely, unbelievable, and quite special.