This is our fourth edition of our ISLP alumni newsletter.                 VISIT OUR SITE  |  DONATE

ALUMNI NEWSLETTER #4 - AUGUST 2015

Hello everyone!  In this newsletter we have shared two amazing stories of how principles of Servant Leadership can be applied in everyday lives. These stories are amazing and peculiar, they show that Servant Leadership principles can be applied in one's culture or foreign land; at home or at work. These stories are different but they have one core - desire to be servant leader. Those of you who live abroad: how can you apply servant leadership principles in foreign culture? What are the most important things to consider?  To those of you who stayed "home" - what are the perks and pitfalls of applying Servant Leadership in a home culture?

Dasha - good luck with your job in Vietnam!  Lena - congratulations from all of us to your one-year-old baby girl!

Share your ideas, thoughts and stories, we would love to hear from you! What is going on in your life now? Job, family, how servant leadership is playing a role in your work and life, we would love to share this in an upcoming newsletter.  Please send this to me at e-mail: daryatmeister@gmail.com

                                                                                                   - Dasha Tailakova, Editor



2015 Academy students and staff visit
Savory Spice Shop in Bend, OR.  Matt
Perry, its owner, is a good example of
someone finding the balance between
success and satisfaction.

In this issue:

Success and Satisfaction: Finding the Balance

By Marshall Christensen, Co-Serve Founder

Co-Serve alumni have noticed that the International Servant Leadership Program seems to point them in a different direction from traditional academic degree programs.  Most of higher education points to the professional success of students.  Co-Serve raises questions about one’s purpose in life. During the 2015 Academy, we asked students to think about their personal mission.  I noticed a pattern in the responses voiced by Academy participants.  One’s mission and life purpose almost always involve contributing to the greater good of others.  Students identified the ways they could help children, people who live with disabilities, and assist the poor or those who suffer from illness.  At their Academy graduation in July, they spoke from their hearts and inspired the hearts of the graduation audience.

I think there is a message for all of us.  We desire professional success.  This is, as David Brooks states in The Road to Character (2015), “the career-oriented, ambitious side of our nature.”  We humans also have an inner side to our nature, one that embodies moral qualities, especially the desire to meet needs and serve others. Co-Serve’s emphasis upon “forming communities of servant leadership around the world” is designed to help each participant find the proper balance between professional success and the satisfaction of fulfilling their purpose in life. As alumni send us their stories, we see this balance.  It isn’t easy, but balancing career success and the satisfaction of life’s purpose is attainable.


Lena plays with children at Broetje
Orchards during the Academy in 2011.


Lena and her daughter.

It's Never Too Late to Start Fulfilling Your Dreams

By Lena (a.k.a. Fackel) Sakharuk (ISLP Group #1 at BGKU in Ukraine - which started in 2010)

Hello, I’m Lena from Ukraine and 5 years ago I took part in the final part of Co-Serve Leadership program in Portland, Oregon. Since then a lot of things have happened: obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy, embarking on a new education field, marriage, giving birth and a war in my country. Never before has the need to help one another been of such importance - in my life and in the life of every Ukrainian citizen! It was a hard time for us and, frankly speaking, it continues to be. I’ll leave politics aside, there is only one thing to say - everything is in our hands! I believed this 5 years ago and I still do.

Now, after all this time, the fire in my heart and desire for change takes over my fear and uncertainty. Now I understand even better what Servant Leadership means. After becoming a mother, my consciousness has turned upside down! At present time I’m not just a person, not just a leader, but a leader who serves another human being 24/7! I want you to understand, it’s not all about me! Any woman (and some men) having embraced the joy of being a parent - become servant leaders! It doesn’t depend on their age, temper, skin color or social status! Yes, not everyone, but a vast majority! This is wonderful! It’s simple and clear. All the principles (of Servant Leadership) naturally flow into our lives!

I was unfortunate (or maybe fortunate - since there is God’s plan in everything). I became a mother when everything around didn’t seem right! During my pregnancy, thousands of peaceful citizens were killed! I didn’t know whether I would survive till the birth of my child! Thank God, the situation stabilized before that moment. Having held "my heart in my hands" for the first time, I felt enormous power and responsibility! From there on her life depended only on me! I was her food, her safe place, her support, her dream! That’s when thoughts about servant leadership began to come back to my mind. There are millions (or even more) children, adolescents, and even adults who sometimes have no one to talk to - who are badly in need of help! But nobody hears them! Every day I imagine what my daughter will be like in a year, two, ten, twenty! There are so many things I want to tell her about, show her, teach her! Sadly, there are so many girls and boys who don’t have parents, whose parents suffer from different kinds of addiction, and whose parents simply were killed!

Over the last year these thoughts haven’t left my mind and developed into an idea, an action plan! And I have come to a decision! I’ve summoned up my strength, remembered all the lessons we were taught in the Academy, all the advice we gave each other! The first step in my mission of making our world better will be creating a YouTube channel where I will be able to share everything not only with my daughter but also with many people in need! Change starts with us! I am grateful! I am grateful every day for my life, for the life of Karolina (my little daughter), and for the opportunity to help others! The older she becomes, the more she will be able to understand and take part in changes (since she is a great mama’s servant leader). I’m also grateful to share my news and thoughts with the people who changed my life and helped me find my mission! You have been doing an incredible job! Each person of Co-Serve team is a role model! P.S. I hope that there will be an academy in Ukraine, I’ll do everything in my power to contribute! Peace!


Dasha in Vietnam.


Dasha with her work colleagues.

Applying Servant Leadership in Vietnam

By Dasha Nikonova (ISLP Group #4 at KAFU - which started in 2007)

Almost two years ago I decided to take a six month internship in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi captured me and without even noticing I have lived for such a long time in a country with a different culture, trying to adapt to it and accept things I do not understand.  I was offered to be in charge of a small start-up – mini-hotel and travel company, which is focused on Russian-speaking customers. I have never been in charge of business, so it was a challenge on its own. But the most important task for me was to figure out how to manage a group of people from a culture, background and customs so different from mine, how to be not only an effective manager, but also a servant leader.

The first problem I noticed right away was the inability of Vietnamese people to think outside the box and work outside the clearly defined directions given them by their manager. One of the obvious reasons of this is that Vietnam, although allowing an open market and private business, is still a communist country, with people who are used to being told what to do by their government, their bosses, as well as everyone who is older than they are.  Like in many Asian countries, in Vietnam older people and members of the family are respected and obeyed no matter what.

I saw two kinds of managers/leaders during the time I worked in Vietnam. “Nice bosses” let their staff play on Facebook all day, don't give any deadlines and are happy when the employees do some of the things asked. “Bad bosses” block Facebook and they read all Skype and e-mail conversations.  They don't let employees interact with each other during the working day.  They put cameras in the offices and try to control every move of the staff. In two years I experienced both of the models and I can say for sure that none of them inspire creativity and interest in the work and in the company.

It was hard for me to apply servant leadership in a country where people are used to a specific kind of treatment, but I tried. I think I mostly failed, but I can say that I tried my best. One of my former employees wrote to me not a long time ago: "Thank you for inspiring me, I have grown so much while working with you." If during my journey I inspired even one person, then it was worth it after all.


Marshall shares during the Alumni
Conference in Kiev, Ukraine.

Co-Serve News

By Dan Ballast

We were very happy to see many of you at our Alumni Conferences in Kazakhstan and Ukraine this past spring.  If you didn't have a chance to see the photos from these - you can see photos from the conference in Ukraine on our Facebook Page HERE, and you can see photos from the conference in Kazakhstan on our Facebook page HERE.   We are now working on future conferences and other strategies to stay in touch with you, and we will be in contact with you about this in future newsletters.

As Marshall shared in his article above, we have just completed our 2015 Servant Leadership Academy.  And, five students from Kazakhstan continue in our Education through Business Immersion (EBI) program.  You can see the latest photos from the Academy and current photos from EBI on our Facebook Page.  This year we had 10 students from Kazakhstan and 1 student from Ukraine.  We were sad that it proved difficult to get visas for our studens from Ukraine and Afghanistan this year.  One big piece of news, is that we are now considering the idea of holding our first Servant Leadership Academy outside the United States in Ukraine in 2016.  We believe it is not only important to show students real-life examples of servant leaders, but particularly, examples that are working in their own countries.  We will keep you posted on how this idea develops.

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