Dear Global SE Community,
It has been some time since I have written one of these letters, and it feels fitting to be writing this at a time of seasonal transition. Here in the northern hemisphere, spring is coming, and there is so much shifting at SEI. First, I have resigned from the Somatic Experiencing International (SEI) board of directors and have been appointed the Interim Executive Director. I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity, as SE and SEI are dear to my heart. Like so many of you, this community has changed literally everything in my life, and the opportunity to serve in this new capacity is an unparalleled honor.
I want to begin by saying thank you to Marv, SEI’s unwavering leader and executive director for the past four years. In December, as you may have seen, Marv went on medical leave. He brought a level of stability to SEI that had never been felt before. He helped us learn to engage the broader community in decisions and helped us to set up committees that have led to more community involvement. Marv brings heart and care and a deep sense of listening to every moment of every day. And while he is no longer in the executive director role, he is still with us in a consulting capacity. I take great comfort in knowing that Marv is still here with us all for this transition, and I hope that will bring you some peace of mind as well. Please join me in thanking him for his deep presence and wisdom and his willingness to remain in his consulting role.
SEI will still be conducting a national search for a permanent executive director this year, as has always been the plan, with an expected start date of January 2024.I know the board looks forward to sharing more details about that process and timeline in the coming months.
Second, I want to acknowledge the Somatic Experiencing Ukraine Task Force (SEUTF) and its metamorphosis to the Somatic Experiencing Humanitarian Committee. The SEUTF was born from the escalation of the war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, just more than a year ago. For the first time, SEI and the European Association of Somatic Experiencing (EASE) came together in a joint effort to support humanitarian response to the war. The first two co–chairs, Zlata Koštejnová(EASE) and Defne Erdur (SEI) created the space for volunteers from around the world to support SEPs who were offering support to refugees – a “help the helper”model. In addition, Claudia Villagra and Liana Dugaro started hosting weekly Resilience Connection sessions, an opportunity for SEPs and others to come together through social engagement and SE practice.Liana worked with volunteers around the world on translation projects and translated SCOPE, among other resources, into more than 30 languages.SEI hired Melissa Sinclair who supported all these efforts and built the infrastructure and program administration necessary for this effort to thrive. Together, the group of volunteers amassed a bank of resources that are available on the SEUTF website. In total, we engaged more than 400 volunteers from more than 40 countries in this effort. We translated 104 resources into 29 languages, and had more than 1600 webinar participants from 54 countries, with the most recent webinar interpreted into 11 languages simultaneously.
In November, we were joined by a Rotary Fellow, Isadora Darwich, who helped to set up a conference commemorating the SEUTF’s work for the past year. Many people shared their stories, their learnings, and their connection at the day–long conference, during which we announced the new iteration of the task force. It will become the SE Humanitarian Committee, jointly chaired by SEI and EASE, a continued collaboration. We know, unfortunately, that the need for humanitarian response will not go away. Instead, we are going to continue to meet the need as best we can through a help–the–helper model and other resources. The new committee has already been tested in response to the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria where our Turkish SEPs banded together quickly to offer support and care for the SEPs offering on–the–ground support to those most impacted by the earthquake. It has been an honor to be a part of the task force, and I look forward to seeing where the committee is headed. Please keep a watch for more information about the committee and ways you can support moving forward.
As you know, there have been some difficult times these past few months at SEI and in the world, but as spring comes to the northern hemisphere, I feel a shift. Like always, we are coming together as a community. What I continue to hear most often from people is how great SE is and how great the SE community is for them. I have had the distinct honor and privilege of spending the past 4.5 years getting to know people within this community from all around the world, and what I can say unequivocally is how heartfelt and passionate our community is and how deeply we all believe in the human potential for healing and resilience. As we know from SE, contraction and expansion go together, and as we have contracted a bit, we have found our footing, and we have found our center, and we have found our structural connection. We can slowly move back into expansion, into holding the container for the larger community, and into continuing to offer trainings, support, and connection. I am deeply humbled and honored to have been asked to serve in this new role. As I reflect on what it is, I keep coming back to the same north star– the only way to be in this role is by connecting to all of you and reminding myself what Marv taught us all so well, how to be servant leaders. The new humanitarian committee is the perfect reminder that there will always be a need for SE in the world, and we are only going to be able to continue showing up when we do it together. Thank you all for being part of this community.
With deep gratitude and warmth,
Rebecca Stahl, SEP
Interim Executive Director