Its 4 days since I got back to the UK from the US Jaycee Leadership Academy in Tulsa, 12th-16th of January. I’ve had sometime to digest all the experiences and learnings I made. And I made a lot! I had a great experience, I met brilliant people and learned how they do things in the US.
There were about 170 participants, and I was the only one not from Area C (the Americas). I’m the only one not from Area C to every had participated, so it was a great honour to be invited. When I arrived I was told by Anthony Colletti, a great JC and Treasurer for USJCs, that my job there was to inspire people. I am not sure if I managed, but at the very least I got inspired myself and learn a lot!
First of all – the US Jaycees is a big organisation! With 23,500 members its the second largest JCI NOM (National Organisation of Members) in the world, tailed by Korea with 23,000 members while Japan is the largest with 47,500 members.
Its not only big in terms of members, but also in terms of layers. Above chapters you have areas, then regions, then states with their own Presidents, Vice Presidents and boards. Above the state level there’s two different types of structures – Institutes (which are like political blocks, largely organised geographically) and secondly teams of 6-7 states led by a National Vice President. On top of this you have the national organisation with Vice Presidents, Executive Board, staff and National President. It helps me when I compare US Jaycees with JCI in Europe – states are like European NOMs – about the same size and ways its being managed.
The USJC Leadership Academy is nothing like European Academy or Japan Academy for those of you who are familiar with those. Its more a weekend to learn how to run a JCI organisation. We learned about membership booths, how to establish a new chamber (or “extensions” as USJC calls it, I had to learn a whole new set of English!), how to follow up with members, and a bunch of things specific to USJC (membership database systems, national programs etc). We also had some training sessions in leadership with the fabulous Suzette Plaisted (IFT #85) that I want to take back to the UK and give to *everyone* here at home, but while European Academy and Japan Academy focus on developing leadership skills – taking the participants through individual development journeys – that is not at all what USJC Leadership Academy is about. Which I understand. With such a large organisation its the best way of getting information out there. And rest assured that I will take inspiration from this and do what I can with it in the UK.
For me JCI is first and foremost people, and as always at these sort of things you meet amazing people. Outside of the USJC National Board I knew no-one from before, but everybody seemed to know me so I was made to feel extremely welcome and taken care of. I had breakfast with Ohio (motto 2011: “Eye of the tiger – continuing the fight!”) and Texas, lunches with Canada and Kentucky, bus trip with Illinois, and shared room with the Secretary of the only chamber left in Mississippi – Hattiesburg.
I can only say thank you so much US Jaycees! I hope you also next year will extend an invitation to someone from outside your area. The more we learn about each other, the stronger we get, and despite the differences, we are all facing the same problems on the ground.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Solveig Malvik