CMM Learning Exchange 2016: Reflection from AC4 Fellow, Aleksandra Kasymova
When I received the congratulations letter from AC4 about my fellowship to participate in the CMM Learning Exchange, my academic advisor, the reference for my application, told me: “Kudos to you! Now you are a real CMMer!” At that moment I was not sure that I knew who exactly a real CMMer was but I was very curious and excited about Learning Exchange experience. Coordinated Management of Meaning, or simply CMM, was my main inspiration and mystery during the second year at California State University in Fullerton when I was working hard on my master’s degree project. Presenting my work in front of the people who I have read about and who have worked in the field for years, was a tremendous honor and a great achievement to me.
The most impressive thing for me was the diversity of the experiences that people bring to the scholarship and praxis of CMM. The topic of the embodiment brought together practitioners from very different fields – from conflict resolution and activism to alternative medicine, yoga, and music. Every presentation, every conversation that I had about CMM differed from each other. It made me realize that CMM was not just a theory and/or a set of practical tools but more like a philosophy that guided all aspects of life, a way of living or simply a “way of being.” It certainly went beyond my previous understanding of CMM and affected the way I see myself, my conversation patterns, my various relationships with people, and the world itself.
Another thing I want to commemorate is the unique format of the Learning Exchange. It was neither a conference or a workshop that I got used to as a graduate student. It was indeed a place where the spirit of mutual learning was celebrated by sharing ideas during presentations, coffee break talks, small group discussions, and individual reflections. The learning process did not happen in a linear way, from a presenter to the audience. Every participant, no matter how long he or she has been a part of the CMM community, had something to learn from other peers, even those who were very fresh and new to it. I had a chance to share my own work, ask numerous questions about CMM concepts and models, learn about great work that people do, participate in the discussions, and even talk about future collaboration and engagement in the ongoing projects. Also, I really appreciated the warmth and welcoming spirit of the whole community. I had a feeling that I have become a part of a family that cheered for every member and was eager to support all future endeavors.
In the future I hope to stay involved in the community and contribute to the scholarship and practice of CMM. Coming from the communication studies field I was surprised to learn that CMM has not received much attention from communication scholars as a methodological tool to understand human communication. However, I think it should be one of the primary communication theories and it could be one of the directions to look at and work in the future. Personally, I am passionate about peacebuilding and bridging intercultural differences. I believe in the approach of changing minds and hearts one person at a time and CMM provides a great framework to accomplish this goal. Creating a better social world one conversation at a time is a difficult but rewarding journey that starts from our own minds and hearts. I think that CMM Learning Exchange creates a great platform for all people who want to see and work for this change in the world. I really want to see how it will develop in time and what new projects will emerge. I thank the whole CMM community for being a great inspiration and AC4 for bringing me all the way from Russia. I am so proud to be a CMM Institute associate, AC4 Fellow and a real CMMer.
Author: Aleksandra Kasymova is an AC4 Fellow who participated in the 2016 CMM Learning Exchange. She recently completed her Master’s Degree in Communication Studies at California State University.
Photos provided by author.
To learn about the fellows’ projects at the 2016 CMM Learning Exchange: read here.