Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

Let me tell you about my first leadership experience.  It came at a time when I ran an international conference titled Quo Vadis.  The Quo Vadis conference is for students and young professionals of Polish heritage.  The purpose is to create a worldwide network of Polish students and professionals to collaborate and develop partnerships.  The very title of Quo Vadis challenges participates to answer the question-where are you going?

There have been multiple conferences around the world since 2009.  They have been held in Canada, the United States, and Australia.  Young professionals rise to the challenge of running an international conference and do it successfully with a team. 

My turn at leadership occurred back in 2013 while I was still a master’s student.  It was during a time where I was looking for professional development, was a struggling graduate student, and still unsure of where I was going professionally and personally.

Quo Vadis Chicago-August 2012

I first learned about the Quo Vadis conference when I attended the Chicago conference in 2012.  I met so many wonderful people and enjoyed the presentations.  I knew I had to bring this to my home state of Connecticut.  I had a purpose and passion for it.  Even among all of the obstacles that I experienced I knew that I will see this goal through and just how important it was.  The Connecticut edition was held in New Britain in 2013.  I learned so much in running this conference.  I made many mistakes.  It also shaped me into becoming a leader. 

Recently, the Quo Vadis conferences celebrated their 10 year anniversary.  Alumni of past Quo Vadis editions joined new participants to celebrate this occasion in Toronto this past September.  Not only was the programming phenomenal but the reunion was fantastic.  There were many lessons that came out from this conference.  The lessons can be best outlined through the pillars of Quo Vadis:

Heritage: a shared heritage is what brings participants together year after year.  We overwhelmingly share a common tie to Poland through birth or familial ancestry.  The Polish diaspora is present in several parts of the world.  It is due to the history of immigration from Poland to Canada, the United States, parts of Europe, and Australia.  This was the result of wars and poverty.  It is important to maintain these traditions while also developing a self-identity in the new land.  In addition, the conference has attracted people who are gaining an interest in Poland and the Polish diaspora. 

Opening Ceremonies Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Leadership: the conference connected leaders from across the globe.  This included current members of government and community leaders.  The panels and lectures focused on leadership development.  All of the necessary tools and skills were available to participants.  Individuals also began to develop partnerships with one another and I am excited to see what happens next!

Past chairs of every conference received the Gzowski medals in Toronto

Unity: my biggest take away from Quo Vadis was the friendships that were developed as a result.  We may all be separated by countries and bodies of water but we are all united with similar goals.  We are a Facebook message away from each other.  We are working towards our goals and moving in the same direction.  I believe this is the beauty of what developed from the Quo Vadis conferences.  

To learn more about the Quo Vadis Conference please visit: https://quovadisconferences.com/