All my life, I’ve leaned heavily on the extrovert side of the scale. My identity has been built up on the communities I’ve found myself in. Whether that be running cross country in high school, leading our tennis team, tutoring ESL students, participating in countless church groups or weaving myself into tight-knit friend packs wherever I found myself. In fact, in high school, I received the “everyone’s best friend” nomination for senior awards and my face will forever be imprinted in our school yearbook, hugging (probably suffocating) my lifelong best friend, Satya.
Satya was a refugee from Bhutan and had made his way to the states with his family our Sophomore year of high school after seeking asylum from political warfare in his camp. After a few days of resettling in Spokane, Washington, I quickly befriended Satya in Spanish class when he sat in the chair behind me and hardly spoke a word to anyone. In a predominantly white school, with 100% english speaking white friends, Satya was a mystery that I wanted to learn more about. Hardly speaking the language, and having no friends, I turned around and sparked a conversation. He was soft, gentle, shy – kind of everything I wasn’t. He oozed of kindness and curiosity.
Fast forward 10 years and we’re still dear friends. We take international trips together, embark on precariously long walks around the city for hours, and have spent many evenings cooking meals together. For 10 years, I’ve watched Satya dig his roots deep in his community – tutoring refugees in school, paying his parent’s bills, putting himself through a four-year university, building an engineering start-up in downtown Seattle, and most importantly, nurturing a loyal community of people who have faithfully believed in & supported him along the way.
I remember when Satya and I linked up in the UK after I had spent a semester in South Africa and he in Florence, Italy. We met in Heathrow and joyfully embraced, suitcases in hand, after having been apart for about six months. Seeing his frail body and banana smile run through the airport was one of the more memorable moments I had experienced in a friendship. We gabbed for hours in the airport with our flat whites, catching up on our semesters abroad before we decided to catch our train. Satya had family friends in Oxford that we were going to stay with for a few nights.
On our way to their house, he told me about how Rachel and her family had been advocates for his family to find refuge in the states during their most trying days of fleeing Bhutan. He told me stories about how his mother was championing for women’s rights and being sought after from political rebels. Rachel spent countless nights at the embassy speaking on behalf of the Dhital family to secure a safe living situation, the possibility of education, and the promise that Satya and his sister could one day be apart of a working-class society. We spent a week with Rachel’s family, and I quickly learned why, after many years passed, Satya still traveled great distances to be with her.
We stayed with two more families who had similar relationships with Satya and I was beginning to recognize a common trend: Satya belonged. He was fought for. He had come from a long line of dreamers and believers who supported him, stood in his corner, and stuck around long enough to unpack the potential they saw in him. The catch? They were all thousands of miles across the world from Satya. “How do they maintain these tight-knit relationships? How do they pick up right where they left off after not seeing each other for months, years?” I thought to myself.
Satya knew how to water the root system of his community that defined who he was. He informed me he would regularly stay in touch with these families in the States via Skype or writing letters (before FaceTime was really a thing). It’s one thing to be “everybody’s best friend” when you’re all in the same stage of life, going through the same motions, and experiencing similar 9-5 days. It’s a whole other thing to deepen relationships with a community of people around the world, over a screen, where intentional participation in the conversation is the only option for success. One common unifier in Satya’s community? They all looked out for each other. They believed that each human and family within their community was valued and worth championing for.
I learned a great deal more than how to navigate the transit system or find the best pain au chocolat on that trip. Satya and his refugee-seeking, justice-fighting, equality-demanding community gave me a taste of the power to be found in connectedness. Not only in proximity, but over a mutual interest to see a dream, vision, or idea come to fruition. His people believed in his basic right for a safe future, and they promised to see the fight through until that was secured.
I’m learning, in my career, that the leaders I most look up to share common ideologies as me. The companies I follow, the influencers I keep tabs on, and the businesses I most care to see succeed are the ones that are investing in people being for people. It’s why I chose to ride my bicycle across the country to raise money for charity:water. It’s why I chose to bridge gaps between companies in a co-working space. And now, why I wanted to advance community building in a legal tech company- because my fundamental belief that humans will always be each other’s greatest tool for success stands true. People being for people, advocating for and amplifying the voices of one another, that will always be our most valuable asset.
This is why I started this blog. I want to write about the stories of women in legal tech amplifying the work of one another. I want to create a space for conversation, listening, and active engagement of new bloggers (because I am one of those new bloggers who also craves that space, so why not create it?) I want to see, in the midst of a global pandemic and social reform movement taking place, a community that thrives and digs deep roots, investing in one another’s work and leaning on the expertise of others for understanding around topics otherwise unexplored.
I want to be an advocate for other women who think they are under-qualified for the job but choose to take it anyways. It’s for people like Kevin, who started a blog on blogging, though he had never blogged before. It’s for the people like Satya, who started a community as a displaced Bhutanese refugee. It’s for the English majors who studied creative writing but ended up in the Legal Tech world and are hungry to see people show up and build up. Displaced, under-qualified, and curious about similar subject matters.
This blog will be a space to share and contribute to the conversation through screens and posts rather than in person conferences and gatherings. Bear with me as I figure it out.