More than ninety SSIO members attended the first ever Regional Officers' training program organized by the USA National Council on February 18th & 19th, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The training program was specially designed for regional officers, including Regional Young Adult (YA) Representatives, YA Advisors and Medical Camp coordinators.  Besides providing regional officers with an overview of the SSIO and its functioning, the training program aimed to facilitate opportunities for regional officers to meet, connect and share resources and prepare regional officers to be competent and loving in their duties, guided by Sai Baba’s teachings

Over a period of eight months, the organizing team met together, studied and reflected on seven Sai Baba's discourses about the Sathya Sai Organization. The process was so meaningful and constructive that the organizing team felt the regional officers would benefit from the same experience. Hence, pre-training sessions were offered on the same seven discourses for the regional officers. Participants also viewed an online video that provided a very detailed and insightful presentation about the structure and organization of the SSIO. Both the links for the seven discourses and the video are provided below.

The weekend kicked off with inspiring speeches by the Chairman of Prasanthi Council, Dr. Narendranath Reddy, Zone 1 Chair, Dr. Phil Gosselin and President & Vice President of the USA National Council, Dr. Feely and Mr. Harish Naidu. Action items from the SSIO Senior Officers’ Meetings at Prasanthi Nilayam in November 2016 were also presented. 

Ernie Duff, Region 9 Service Coordinator, filled with excitement and anticipation, noted the love and unity permeating   the conference. A meaningful part of the training program were the breakout sessions during which regional officers were presented with various difficult scenarios they might typically encounter at the Sai Centers, and worked in groups to generate solutions, bearing in mind Sai teachings and the five human values. The hope was that attendees would take these valuable training exercises back to share with the Center Officers in their region.

In the evening, attendees listened with rapt attention to presentations by the National SSIO leadership including Mr. Alex Grana (National Service Coordinator), Ms. Prity Bhatt, (National Devotion Coordinator), Dr. Srinivas Raghavan (National Education Coordinator), and Mr. Satheeshan Siva (National Young Adult Male Representative). All attendees were inspired by the sheer impact that the SSIO has had in the USA. The Chairs of the International SSIO Committees also presented on the numerous vast projects undertaken and various opportunities to serve in the international Media, Disaster Relief, and Technology Committees. Creta Schierman, President for Region 4, said, "I always knew Sai Baba was universal, but after the officers’ training weekend in Houston, and hearing all of the world-wide activities of SSIO, I now realize that the organization that bears His name is itself universal.” 

On Sunday morning, Dr. Joe Phaneuf (National Young Adult Male Advisor) presented a Communications Workshop on how to interact with others in a positive and loving way. Ms. Aparna Murali conducted an interactive workshop on Team Dynamics that helped participants explore various ways of seeing, hearing, speaking, and witnessing, while working with love. Aparna commented, “Sai Baba declared that the Earth is a great enterprise, a busy factory where there is only one and perhaps the most important product-love! The Sathya Sai Organization is similarly a great enterprise with amazing diversity and fantastic talent. So, as long as we set 'love' as our goal, we should do well in whatever role we are blessed to serve."  Q & A sessions punctuated the weekend, as attendees had the golden opportunity to ask specific questions of the International and National SSIO leaders and received very insightful responses from them. 

The organizing team expresses its sincere appreciation to officers and SSIO members of the Houston area Sai Center, all who attended the meeting, and the national officers and planning teams for their dedicated efforts. Sathya Sai Baba said:

Let each of you be a light unto himself or herself and thereby be a light unto others.

  May we always remember the Divine Light within us and be a light to others.  

Do not doubt your destiny: it is to merge in the Highest Wisdom, Power, and Love. Do not waver or stay away. At every step, inquire, discriminate, and search for Truth. Be self-reliant, bold and free. Know that you are the instruments of God in a Divine Task and so there is no justification for weakness or vacillation. Be an example to others in humility and devotion. Do not scatter advice, without the authority of practical experience. Love, cooperate, serve. Your Office is a call for spiritual exercise, a reminder of your being under My care and direction.”  

Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 9 Ch. 35, November 22, 1969

Discourses on which the conference was based are available here.