Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Want YOU for the US Army!

Today I woke up feeling sick, and thought I would not be able to go to class. Sonya brought me some breakfast, and I decided that I would go to class because I did not want to miss anything important.

When we arrived at class, I was already feeling better and I couldn't wait to start the lesson.

Dean Almandrez opened the lecture by saying, "if you want to break the machine, you need to get into the machine and understand how it works." I really identify with that idea, because in order to change something, such as a social norm, you need to understand why and how it exists in the first place.

We then moved on to examples of leadership. We saw a US Army recruitment clip, a Dances With Wolves clip, and a Sister Act clip, each of which portrayed a different type of leadership style.

The US Army clip was very focused on power, physicality, masculinity and strength. I found it very authoritative in terms of leadership. I was surprised to see that the clip even highlighted women in the Army at all, but I assumed that it only did so to show that they are "inclusive." In the clip, I noticed a lot of gender, race, and age norms. There were only two snippets of women soldiers, and in one of them, the woman needed help to climb over a wall. The majority of the people I saw were Caucasian, and all of the generals were white and male. The generals were also all older. One thing I noticed about the US Army clip was that they used pathos, logos and ethos to strengthen their arguments about joining the Army. By the end of the clip, I actually felt empowered. It felt like Uncle Sam was yelling at me, "I want YOU for the US Army!" I think if I did not have other things in my life to look forward to, and things that drive me and make me determined, this commercial would really encourage me to join the Army.

In Dances With Wolves, I noticed that the leadership style was more discussion-based, and the group needed to come to a general consensus before continuing. I also noticed age norms. In this clip, whenever the old man spoke, everyone else was silent. The old man spoke quietly and calmly, while the younger men spoke abrasively and loudly.

Sister Act was interesting, because the Whoopie Goldberg's character at first was very reluctant to take the lead, and seemed uncomfortable in doing so. However, once she became the designated leader, she was very encouraging, and was both process and goal oriented.

We then went on to do an activity where we placed big pieces of paper around the room that were labeled with different types of leadership. Then we went around to each sheet of paper with a partner, and wrote down traits, examples and critiques that fell under each category.
One of the types of leaders
After the activity, we learned a commonly held definition of a leader: any person who actively engages with others to accomplish change. I agree with this definition somewhat, but I don't necessarily believe a leader always has to accomplish "change." Change is also very broad, and I feel like there can be leaders who do more/less than perform a change.
Sonya writing down our example.

Dean Almandrez then told us that she sees us all as leaders, but the challenge she poses for us is to see ourselves as leaders. I think this is something I definitely something on which I need to work. I frequently find myself second guessing decisions that I've made when I am in a position of power. For example, when directing a play at the Berkeley Rep, I consistently found myself wondering if I had made the best decision with blocking a certain scene, or if I could have done it better. I think because I am a bit of a perfectionist, I will always have to carry this trait with me, but I have to learn how to manage it.

Then we did a Round Robin where we shared to a partner different feelings we have felt so far about the class. The one that stood out to me was "my action plan exemplifies citizenship because..." I immediately had an answer for this prompt. I think that despite the fact the homeless people are without housing, they are still American citizens and are entitled to the basic civil rights that are given to the rest of society. Because the live "outside of the social norm," homeless people are denied these rights. I think it is extremely unfair.

After lunch, we did a fishbowl exercise, which I have done in my English classes before. The basics of the activity is that there are two circles, an inner and an outer, and only the inner circle can speak. After the inner circle is done speaking, the outer circle gets to repeat verbatim what a person inside the inner circle said. Although no one mentioned anything I had said, I found other people's reactions to hearing their words come out of another's mouth very interesting.

Round Robin
We also got to watch Malala's speech in her fight for the right to education. She was so eloquent, and I completely agreed with everything she said. I also found it so surprising that even after a member of the Taliban had shot her in the face, she still has no desire to inflict any harm on him. I think it takes an extremely strong person to do that. Watching her speech was very empowering, and it made me proud to be a woman. I am all the more grateful that I have had access to education. It was really eye-opening to see that this girl was shot for simply wanting to go to school, when there are students who attend my school who have no desire to go at all. The next time I hear anyone say they hate school (including my sister!) I will be sure to remind them all that Malala has gone through, and that she is fighting for something that we take for granted.

After dinner, I went with Sonya, Julia and Michelle to a workshop about college that was for the scholarship students attending Summer@Brown. There were only a few people there, but it was nice to be more personable with the presenters. We talked about getting into college, paying for college, and being the first generation in our family to attend college. Both of my parents attended college, and my mother has a PhD, so I found it a bit insulting that the majority of the lecture was based on being the first person in a family to go to college. I think they assumed that because we are on scholarships, we come from families that haven't had more formal educations, which is not necessarily true. Overall, I found the lecture to be very helpful because I was not aware of the different scholarships for which I could apply.

We are getting closer and closer to our Action Plan presentation days. I'm both nervous and excited, but mostly grateful that I am able to experience such an amazing class with such amazing people who have different perspectives and ideas. 
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