Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Katniss Everdean

Today was day ten on the island. 

...Rhode Island.

In class, we reviewed the different leadership theories by raising hands to give definitions for each, then moved on to a presentation Dean Almandrez had created on Asian women in leadership. One of the stories was from a woman who got a job as a journalist and who indicated that her mother wasn't immediately excited for her; instead, she warned her that she was representing all Asians by taking the job on television. 

Then we did a scavenger hunt. We split into six groups of four and were told that the goal was to be back first having checked off everything on our list. Every group was given 45 minutes and handed a list of things to find, including someone who knows the difference between sex, gender, and sexual orientation, the LGBTQ center at Brown, and a male feminist. My group ran from place to place, asking strangers on the street if they knew what misogyny was and taking pictures with them if they answered correctly. We took pictures with people and in front of each of the buildings we had to find, as proof that the four of us were there, and as evidence that each group stayed together, which was a rule. I had asked a guy on the street if he was a feminist, and got the frustrating response of "no, I'm a man." 

My team collaborated very well and our group was very balanced; we had two Wests (Ruchi and I helped figure out the exact locations of the buildings), and my other teammates were Kelli, a North, and Sania, a South. My team finished first, with over 17 minutes left. The next group to come had five minutes before time was up. Other groups had forgotten to check the time when the countdown started or had trouble finding people in the Leadership Institute to answer questions, since most Leadership students were in class, but I had noted the time for my group and we decided to knock on a door to borrow students (the teachers were happy to help us) so that helped us keep ahead of the other groups. 

We read a story called "Alligator River" about five characters who are all horrible people, and we had to decide who was the worst of them and rank them by what we thought they did was most morally wrong. I noticed that the story was very vague, and when each group posted its ranking, it was clear that there were a few different possible interpretations. That was mainly because the story never explained the relationships the characters have. There were trends in the different groups' rankings, most chose the same two for either worst or second-worst character, but one group chose Gregory for the worst and another chose him for the best (or rather, least bad).

We took a break for lunch, and Elia, Sonya, Michelle, and myself drove over with Dean Almandrez to have lunch at a place called Gregg's. She was genuinely interested in what we had to say about the program and how we felt about it, and really seemed to appreciate the input. We sat down and ordered, and we really got to know each other better. Dean Almandrez told us a hilarious story about orange chicken, which we followed with our own embarrassing stories. It was really nice to talk to our instructor as a person rather than as a teacher. It was different from what I'm used to, because at my school there's usually more distance between teachers and students. It was a nice change, and I had a lot of fun. 

After lunch, we returned to class, and Dean Almandrez told us the whole "Alligator River" story, not the less detailed one that we were given. In this story, we realized that we had assumed that the father was a boyfriend, the mother was a man, and the brother was a stranger. The relationships they really had made a difference in how we ranked them when we thought they were different. 

Next we played a card game. The six teams sat at tables numbered 1-6. The goal was to move up to table #1. Each group learned the rules to the game on their own from a sheet of paper. We played one round with our group, and the winner moved up a table, and the loser moved down. The two in the middle stayed. The entire activity was to be silent. I stayed at my table throughout the activity, but when the second round started and we had a new person at out table, it was clear to me that her group had been given a different set of rules. Smiling, I pointed to the ace on the table that had won the round, then up in the air, gesturing "aces high." Each round, every new person was either stubborn about their rules or confused about ours. Everyone was either a little frustrated or absolutely perplexed. Some people didn't react well to the controversy and just took the cards playing by their own rules, but others submitted to the majority from the table. 

We talked about the different activities after we had finished all three. Dean Almandrez told us that in the first activity, the scavenger hunt, we could have done it as one big group. The idea had never even occurred to us. Instead of thinking to help each other, we had made it one huge competition. The next two activities showed how hard it was to work with little information. Then we discussed the difference between equality and equity. She gave the example of shoes. Equality would be giving the entire class the same pair of shoes...all the same size. Equity would be giving the class the same pair of shoes in each person's individual size. 

I ought to explain my title at some point. I told my brother that we did a scavenger hunt and played card games, so he immediately thought of the Hunger Games. Lunch with Dean Almandrez was also a big part of the day, so I tried to incorporate both of those. I apologize if it didn't work at all.

Today had a big focus on group activities, and I learned that in these situations, I behave a lot more like a South, the encouraging "team player" type. I did stand up for my opinion of one character and debated it with my group when ranking the characters, but we eventually decided on an order we could all agree on. During the activity with the silent card game, I noticed that many of my classmates were quick to get angry, but I calmly did my best to help them figure out what was going on. I think I did really well in the groups, because it was really useful practice adjusting your leadership style to the situation. 

I finished and submitted my Action Plan essay today, and have started preparing my speech, which I'll be practicing in class tomorrow and performing on Friday. I'm not looking forward to packing, so I'll probably get a head start on that as soon as possible.

Today was really fun, but as the day went on, I was increasingly aware that nothing we were doing would happen in high school. Scavenger hunts for someone who can name a young woman leader and lunch with a teacher never happens at El Cerrito, and I really wish it did. 
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