Monday, July 22, 2013

Can I Please Be a College Student Already?

I’m still in awe from my first day of class. Coming into this program I knew it was going to be a great class, but I didn’t know just how amazing it would be until today. The Women and Leadership class is primarily discussion-based (the desks are set in a circle) and our instructor, Dean Almandrez, encourages students to participate. At school, I usually don’t speak up a lot in class, but today I found the discussions so thought provoking that it was easy to participate. Plus, Dean Almandrez is so passionate about what she does and her excitement is contagious. I love her style of teaching because she wants us to challenge the social norms and ask “why”.

During class, we discussed the 7 Categories of “Otherness” (social class, age, ethnicity and race, gender, sexuality, religion, and ability) and the effects that these categories have on society. These things define who we all are. Although, at first, I thought that these were the roots of the problems we have in the world today, I came to realize that these things in it of themselves aren’t the problem, but the values that society places on them make them a problem. We also discussed how the dominant group of society creates social “norms” based on their perception of what is normal, and people who question the dominants or are different from the dominants become the subordinates. It’s incredible because I feel as though Dean Almandrez summed up society in one amazing lesson.

Relating to this discussion, we watched a snippet of a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (The Danger of a Single Story). In her speech, she discussed how a single story you hear about an area can distort your image of that area. For example, Chimamanda is from Nigeria, and when she can to an American college, her American roommate asked her if she could “hear her African tribal music” and was surprised when Chimamanda pulled out a Mariah Carey tape. Chimamanda’s American roommate had grown up hearing a single story about all the bad things about Africa, such as poverty, and never heard any stories about the good things in Africa. After hearing Chimamanda’s speech, I realized that I, too, am guilty of judging people or places based on a single story. In the future, I’ll make sure to check my knowledge before making a judgment.

After class, the class TAs led a workshop specifically for the Women and Leadership class. During the workshop, we were able to figure out what type of leader we are: the planner, the listener, the one who takes everyone’s emotions into account, and the one who keeps moving forward at all costs. All these types of leadership styles had both positive and negative aspects about them and in the end we learned that, to be a good leader, you have to be able to be all these types of leaders. For example, if you’re normally the listener but you get put into a group full of listeners, you have to step up and be a planner. I feel like this workshop allowed me to get to know myself and my classmates a lot better.

The setting for our leadership workshop activities.
Besides having an amazing day at class, I’ve had a fun time getting accustomed to college life. I’m sort of able to navigate around the Brown campus now and I feel so independent! I’ve already signed up for a trip to the beach this Saturday but spots fill up fast so hopefully I’ll get a chance to go. There are just so many activities here that I don’t know how I’ll be able to fit them all into my schedule. I want to get involved in as much as the activities as I can during my time at Brown.

Tonight's reading

Post a Comment