“It means longing. It’s a nostalgia. It’s a feeling so deep that it makes you want to do something about it.”

At AIM’s fall action on October 7, 2021, Naomy and Yolanda Rodrigues of Sligo Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Takoma Park shared a powerful concept called saudade with the 200 Montgomery County residents who gathered to kick off our listening campaign.

Naomy and her mother Yolanda bring the concept of saudade from their home country, the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa.  “Where I’m from, we have a very special word that is called saudade,” Naomi shared. “It can be a place, a situation, a feeling, and this feeling is so profound that it could even be something that never happened, yet just having a glimpse of it makes you want it to happen. And because of that feeling you have, you not only feel it and you long for it, but you actually want to do something about it.”

Yolanda shared the sense of saudade she felt participating in a community walk with AIM in Quebec Terrace apartments. “Watching all these people from many different walks of life—to be outdoors, to be walking together—made me feel nostalgia and longing, to have saudade of my country. I grew up in a place where we would come together to help each other build a house, clean the neighborhood, overcome challenges, and celebrate the victories together. So while I was walking that day, I felt that spirit again, and it inspired me to continue to be involved in AIM and act to see the change I want.”

Sharing our personal longings—the things we feel saudade for—is the first step to building power together in our listening sessions. What are the things we have lost, or the glimpses of a better future we have seen, that drive us to take action? When we share these feelings in our listening sessions, we develop trust, identify shared commitments, and forge a basis to take action as a community.

How will you incorporate saudade, this powerful sense of longing that drives us to take action, into your listening sessions as a participant or as a facilitator? Watch the video above and consider sharing this video with your listening session participants to learn more about how saudade can help inform our listening sessions.

Interested in leading listening sessions at your own institution, but haven’t had a chance to join us for a training yet? Sign up here to join our listening session leader training on November 18 at 7PM.