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The Leaflet Article

Featured Article:

An Invitation: Into Your Future...

Dr. Wayne Ruga, FAIA, FIIDA, Hon. FASID

On October 20th, 2013, I will lead a ‘Healthcare and Design Delegation’ to India – organized by the People to People Citizen Ambassador Program – I invite you to join me. 

Incidentally, the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo was conceived as the direct result of a similar invitation that I received from John Lind and Dick Hansen (the founders of HLM) to join them for a People to People Delegation to Japan and China in 1985.

In 1985, I was an idealistic, self-employed, young architect in San Francisco. I was extremely fortunate to have several prestigious clients, thereby providing me with the resources to actively participate in a wide range of professional and collegial activities. However, in spite of this good fortune, I regularly found myself having feelings of both isolation and loneliness, as it was rare for me to find colleagues or clients who shared my passionate interest in designing environments to improve lives.

One spring day, a letter arrived from John Lind inviting me to become a delegate to represent the state-of-the-art in healthcare design to government agencies, academic institutions, and our professional counterparts in Japan and China. I had never been to Japan or China – nor had I ever participated in such an impressive high-level activity. Not knowing where the money would come from for me to participate – or even being more practical, how I would be able to take the time off to go – I made the commitment that day, and sent my deposit check and application in.

For me, this Delegation was ‘the experience of a lifetime’. I made a presentation at the Beijing Institute on ‘Healing Environments’ – a topic, at that time, of tremendous personal interest (and considered to be ‘very California’). This was one of those very special ‘life moments’, that I often remember – so fondly – and with an extreme sense of accomplishment.

Several of my fellow delegates became professional collaborators, and even more of them became life-long friends, as a result of sharing in this remarkable journey together.  In fact, as we were travelling – while I was reflecting on the profundity of my experience – I made two personal commitments.  The first one was, upon returning home, to found a ‘symposium’ on healthcare design that would be the global community for learning about a more supportive approach to designing facilities, with this ‘symposium’ serving as the ‘place’ for the full spectrum of like-minded healthcare and design stakeholders to learn from each other’s perspectives and share resources to build a better future. The second commitment was to become a leader for a similar People to People Delegation.

On the final evening of our journey, at a ‘going-home-reception’ event on board a sailing junk in Hong Kong Harbor, I was standing on the bow confirming these two commitments to myself, when Jim Zajac came over to me and asked whether I was planning to do anything differently – upon returning home – as a consequence of my having participated in this Delegation. Jim was the very first person to hear me speak ‘The Symposium’ into reality, as I shared my commitments with him. 

Well, the rest is a history that – almost 26 Symposiums later – we have watched unfold. Several years ago, when ‘The Symposium’ presented me with the Lifetime Achievement Award, for my having founded it, Jim Zajac was there – the first person to shake my hand, as he congratulated me and reminded me of that history-altering moment we shared when I first told him of my dream – a dream that probably never would have been realized if John Lind hadn’t invited me to join him, as I am now inviting you to join me. 

And, with regards to my second commitment – to lead a People to People Delegation, this Delegation to India will be the fourth one that I will have led. In 1989, I led my first one to five countries in Western Europe; in 1990, my second was through the former Soviet Union; in 2007, my third was to China; and – now – in 2013, my fourth will be to India. 

Will this one be the last one that I will lead? I sure hope not – as each Delegation experience has been a landmark in my life and has enabled me to make new, life-long friendships around the world that would not have happened otherwise (which, incidentally, was precisely what Dwight Eisenhower had in mind when he founded People to People in 1956). I have never been to India before, and have always been intrigued by its alluring mystique. I can’t wait for October 20 to arrive, and for this new – and long anticipated – experience to begin.

I welcome your good company. Please consider this note to be your personal invitation to join me. Certainly, if I – or the People to People staff – can provide any additional information about this Delegation, or the People to People organization, please feel most welcomed to call upon us.

For further details, please see: www.peopletopeople.com/wayneruga.          

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