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Marian Tompson Talks about the LLLI Conference

Mary Hurt
LLLI Public Relations Associate
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 2, April-May 2002, p. 31.

“Attending a La Leche League International Conference will broaden your horizons.You never know what you will see or hear at a La Leche League International Conference that will change your life forever,” said Founder Marian Tompson.

From the beginning, Marian understood the impact of LLLI Conferences because she learned so much from the speakers, and from meeting people who felt the same way she did about breastfeeding and the importance of family. In fact, this information and support was so important to her that she took a nighttime job with a caterer to earn the money she needed to attend LLLI’s second Conference, which was held in Indiana, USA. Even though she intensely disliked the catering job, Marian thought that attending the Conference was worth the hard work and effort.

Another time Groups in the Chicago, Illinois, USA area held a huge joint rummage sale to pay Marian’s airfare to a Conference in the western United States. She feels strongly that sending a Leader to a Conference is one of the best investments a Group can make. Marian stated,

If you interest your Group in fundraising to help you attend a Conference, you will be doing the Group a favor because you will bring back so much more to the Group. Attending LLLI Conferences strengthens you in your commitment to doing what is best for your child and provides you with resources that you will be able to use for future breastfeeding, childbirth, or parenting questions. It is one thing to learn something from a book and another thing to hear it from someone who has experienced it.

While the purpose of gathering to share information and enthusiasm has remained consistent, over the years La Leche Leagues’ biennial Conferences have become increasingly international in flavor.

The opening night of LLLI Conferences now traditionally features families from around the world in a “Parade of Nations.” It is not unusual to have representatives from every habitable continent and over 50 different nations. The “World Fair,” an international bazaar where for three hours you are able to shop for items from around the world, offers another opportunity to meet others who live far away from your home. An international La Leche League Conference offers the opportunity of meeting people from around the world who share the same attitudes about breastfeeding and the importance of family.

“The World Fair is a wonderful opportunity. You may never have another chance to mingle with other mothers from around the world,” said Marian Tompson. In thinking back to the first Parade of Nations, Marian remembers an Israeli Leader and a Palestinian Leader walking across the stage and stopping to hug one another as they reached the middle of the stage. “It gives you hope to see people who disagree on many issues be able to agree on the importance of breastfeeding and parenting.”

Marian Tompson said that from the beginning of La Leche League she has believed that the seedbed of world peace will be families living the love that children need. Her hope is that in creating families that live the love they proclaim, we will be developing children who will have the self-esteem that it takes to be more open to discussion as a way to solve differences.

The international aspect of the LLLI Conference and the unity we experience as breastfeeding advocates is reinforced in the theme for the 18th International Conference to be held July 3-6, 2003 in San Francisco, California, USA: “Strength Through Diversity: Creating One Breastfeeding World.”

We hope that you are planning to be part of this breastfeeding world. It is not too soon to plan how you will be able to attend. Perhaps you will “walk” to San Francisco, that is, use some of your World Walk profits to pay your way; or maybe you will hold a different fundraiser or make the Conference part of a family vacation. No matter how you get to the Conference, Marian Tompson believes that you will wonder why you had any doubts as to whether all of your hard work was worth the effort. She stated, “It will be an experience you will never forget.”

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