Wednesday, July 31, 2013

An Action-Packed Wednesday

Today in class I was caught off-guard with our activities. I was expecting to stay inside all day but, instead, we split up into six groups of four people each and were assigned different tasks. Our first task was a scavenger hunt around campus. Dean Almandrez told us that our goal was to return back to the classroom first with all the items on our list crossed off. We had to find things like signs for different buildings, men who identified as feminists, people who could tell the difference between sex, gender, and sexual orientation, and two men to do a Wonder Woman pose. For each item we found, we crossed it off our list and took a picture with each person/building for proof. Unfortunately, we promised the men posed like Wonder Woman that no one but the people in our class would see the picture (sorry!). Our group came in third and I was so proud. I feel like our group dynamics worked really well together because we had a mix of different leaders and each person contributed something unique to the group. However, after we had all returned, Dean Almandrez pointed out that we could have all worked together as a class to complete the scavenger hunt. The only directions she had given us was to stay with the members of our group. She said that many women feel like they have to compete with each other and that we shouldn’t feel that way. I understand what she is saying and I think it’s interesting that we all immediately thought it was a competition between teams. In my opinion, we thought this because we have been trained to think this way. In school and at camps, when we are divided into teams, we are almost always asked to compete against each other.

After the scavenger hunt we had to analyze a story called “Alligator River” and rank the characters from most worst to least worst. The story is sort of hard to explain, but the actions of each and every one of the characters were questionable so my group had a nice debate about each character’s ranking. I ended up changing my personal views a few times after hearing the thoughts of other people in my group. After we all shared our thoughts to the class, Dean Almandrez revealed more details about the characters’ relation to one another in the story that left me questioning my prior rankings of the characters. It’s amazing just how much a few pieces of new information can shake up your perception of something.

Our third task was to, within our separate teams, learn a card game. Each group got a different piece of paper and one deck of cards. Dean Almandrez told us that we must not let another group see our directions because some teams “had an advantage over the others” and we wouldn’t want anyone to know about that. We then sat down at tables numbered 1-6 with our group and found out we couldn’t talk. Dean Almandrez set a timer and we played our card game. The loser would move down a table number, the winner would move up a table number, and two players would remain at the table. The goal was to move all the way up to table number one. As soon as I moved tables, it was pretty clear that we’d all gotten slightly different directions for the same card game. For example, my original directions had said that the ace card was considered the high card, but the people from the table I moved to seemed to have the impression that the ace card was the low card. It was so frustrating because everyone was playing by their own rules and nobody could explain anything to each other because we had to remain silent. After the initially confusing and frustrating period of playing time, I thought it was funny to see people trying to work out the new rules. When the game was over, we discussed it. We came to the conclusion that this game was a metaphor for being a good leader versus a bad leader. For example, some people had simply dominated the game by pretending they knew the rules, pretending they had won, and then moving up a table simply because no one in the group had any idea what was going on. This connects back to a quote Dean Almandrez wrote on the board the first day of class: “An uninformed people is a subjugated people.”

At lunch, Julia, Michelle, Elia and I went out to lunch with Dean Almandrez. Last week, she told our class that we could sign up for days to have lunch with her so that we could get to know her outside of class. This was a new experience for me because, in high school, teachers don’t make too much of an effort to get to know you outside of class. It was great to get to know Dean Almandrez as a real person and not just as our instructor.

After the class day was over, I went to a Zumba class with some friends that was actually taught by Dean Almandrez! I’ve never done a Zumba class before so I had no idea what to expect, but I had lots of fun. We couldn’t find a place inside to do the Zumba class so we did it out on the Main Green in front of many people. I probably looked ridiculous but I didn’t care because I was having too much fun.

I feel so great right now because I've completed my Action Plan essay! It's so great that I no longer have to worry about perfecting my essay. I pretty much have my speech down and tomorrow in class we get to present our speech and answer our classmates' questions in order to prepare for Friday. Getting a project done early feels so rewarding and all my hard work has finally paid off. I can rest easy tonight.
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