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AWA Rome Conference Report

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March 26, 2012

Dear AWAR Members,

Since attending the the 2012 FAWCO Interim Conference in Dublin, we now believe there is indeed gold at the end of the rainbow and plenty of Irish luck! We would like to share our experiences with you in this short, but sweet, letter. 

Imagine being welcomed to Dublin by the President of Ireland himself, Michael Higgins, a charming leprechaun of a man whose keynote speech highlighted the close connections of Americans with the Irish, reminding us that  "the moral demands of friendship are greater than those of justice", paraphrasing Aristotle. Dr. Mary Henry's serious message of family health issues was delivered in a charming, self-effacing manner. Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs welcomed the participants to the conference. Like President Higgins, he stressed the ties between the United States and Ireland, noting that many of our leaders have Irish ancestors, including President Obama (O'Bama?) has a eighth cousin in Ireland!  FAWCO celebrated the 15th anniversary  of its status as an NGO. A panel discussion entitled Stop the Violence: Ireland moderated by journalist Susan  McKay included women involved in a rape crisis center, housing, law and legislation.

The host country continued  'A Hundred Thousand Welcomes' with presentations on Irish arts and culture in workshops for members, reps and guests, including the dinner at Dublin Castle with a speech by Dr. Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, a tour and dinner at the historic John Jameson Distillery with Irish music and dance. 

The pot of gold was found at the FAWCO Foundation “Over the Rainbow" benefit celebration which netted more than $30,000 with a lucky dip, silent auction, raffle of an emerald ring and a live auction with significant contributions from FAWCO Region 8 which includes AWAR! And the luck of the Irish? One of the conference co-chairs was the winner of the ring and a member of the Dublin Club won the 17th edition of the Friendship Quilt, a project that has garnered more than $50,000 for the FAWCO Foundation since its inception. The Water Target photography exhibit added to the success with the sale of the photographic prints depicting water which will be presented in book form. AWAR won an honorable mention for one of the entries. The two-year Water Target has exceeded its projection in less than a year and the projection has been doubled.

The two of us participated in invaluable workshops as well as face-to-face discussions with FAWCO counselors. We shared in a round table of “best practices tips and resources” moderated by FAWCO VP for communications, our own Elizabeth Abbot. We discussed issues related to US citizenship, taxes and voting rights with answers from experts. We had the chance to connect with our colleagues from Region 8 forming strong links to the clubs in Italy and Greece. 

AWAR had a strong presence for the first time since 2007, including the President, FAWCO Rep and co-chair, three past presidents, and four other members, including a FAWCO Board member. We have returned filled with the positive energy and good will of this dynamic group of women.

Visit fawco.org to view the presentations and videos of each session offered during the Dublin conference. 

Sla'inte*, 
Lee Skelton (President) and Beth Sanders (FAWCO Rep)

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