Since 2010, Bob and Cynthia Chapman have lived and led from the desire to share empathetic listening with the world, ever since seeing the positive impact that the course about listening was having on the team members of Barry-Wehmiller, where Bob is chairman and CEO. Seeing its power to change not only working environments but personal lives and family dynamics, they knew that this bountiful gift was not theirs to hold but one that must be shared.
City by city, course by course, life by life, sharing the gift of empathetic listening is exactly what they’ve done. Across the US, 33 communities and 10,000 lives have been directly served through our nonprofit, Our Community Listens (OCL), in the last nine years. Recently, OCL has crossed borders and oceans sharing the ideals of empathy, caring, listening, authenticity and service. In short, World Caring has gone global.
However, to understand how we arrived to this point, we must return to 2017. It was early autumn, as school was starting, leaves were falling, and the air here in St. Louis, home to OCL’s headquarters, was turning crisp., Across the globe in steamy Singapore, a woman bought a book, caught a vision, and began to dream. Marguerite Khoo and her husband Hin Hiong, 69- and 79-years young at the time, both lifelong successful international businesspeople and leaders in their faith, fell enthralled with the idea that Everybody Matters and the notion of workplaces where people were treated like family. Having worked across Asia, sometimes in countries where pressure to perform is so high that white collar suicide is a rampant social issue, the Khoos decided they must find out more about workplace and community cultures where people care deeply about each other and leaders understood the awesome responsibility to let people know they matter. So, in November 2017, they arrived in our offices to explore our process of relationship building and connection.
Now, 12 months, a few trips across the globe, and many, many Skype calls later, OCL and the Khoos’ organization, SunFish Headway, is well on the way to establishing a program partnership whereby the concept of World Caring will dip its toes into international waters for the very first time.
OCL teammates, in collaboration with Barry-Wehmiller University, spent the fall building relationships and collaborating about expanding the borders of empathy and care. Below is an update shared with our Board and our OCL family from Kuala Lumpur a few weeks ago. In this season of joy and sharing, it is our joy to share World Caring with you.
November 10, 2019
Good morning, good evening, and hello, OCL Family and Friends!
I write to you from the bustling metropolis of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, home to palm sugar, ginormous shopping malls, and a beautiful mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian people. This month here in Kuala Lumpur, Our Community Listens hosted its very first international facilitator training! Through collaboration with Barry-Wehmiller University and the Singapore-based Sunfish Headway, 13 new Communication Skills Training (CST) facilitators are prepared to share empathetic listening throughout Asia.
The Asian-based candidates who studied to join our ranks this month are a wonderfully eclectic group. They include two people from China, two from Singapore, eight from Malaysia, and one from the USA. During introductions they talked about things like wanting to make sure they lived purposefully, intentionally, make sure that they get out of their engineering, administrator, or professor mindsets and behaviors and make sure the people around them know they are seen, heard, valued, and loved.
While most of our North American friends and family are sleeping, our newest facilitators in Kuala Lumpur walked five classrooms of people through DISC reports and into self-understanding.
One participant, Gloria, is an English professor at a university. She talks about how her formal training in linguistics equipped her, like many people in higher education, to be a subject matter expert in her field but not to teach, connect, and touch the hearts of her students. This time with the OCL and BWU teams is equipping people like Gloria and others with previous public speaking, teaching, and leadership roles, to connect with and create learning environments for those in their spans of care in deeper, more meaningful, life-changing ways.
Another Facilitator Training candidate learning to share and facilitate empathetic listening is Lawrence Lu. Larry is an Asian-born man who lives in Plano, Texas, where he serves as an engineer during the week and pastors a Mandarin-speaking church on the weekends. When asked about his decision to take the OCL class and subsequent Facilitator Training in Kuala Lumpur instead of doing so in the US, Larry shared passionately about his desire to learn alongside this unique group of colleagues to have the East-meets-West experience, connecting beyond continents or cultures, but instead where humanity is shared.
Our collaboration with SunFish Headway and Barry-Wehmiller University is creating a new movement here in the Far East. It is inspiring to see the dedication of this dynamic group of leaders invested in equipping others for Truly Human Connection and helping foster a society in which we care about each other first.
In the months and seasons ahead, Our Community Listens will collaborate with SunFish Headway to plan, scope, and dream together on how best to bring the gift of empathetic listening to bustling metropolises and quaint villages in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and beyond.. From a small but strong factory in Phillips, Wisconsin to now the steamy streets and conference rooms of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the gift of Truly Human Leadership and equipping people with the tools to care about each other first is growing, touching lives across the world.
To learn more about this listening revolution and world caring, or to sign up for your own three-day experience, visit our website at www.ourcommunitylistens.org.
Dreaming, working, listening beside you—