Thursday, July 25, 2013

Practical Learning about Leadership

It was nice to see the other side of Providence’s weather. After all the sunny days, I am experiencing the sudden change in weather. I am here writing blog, sitting in tea shop and looking outside the window at people or cars and I am finding it interesting.

Raindrops on the window
Today was an unusual day in many ways. Unlike other days, we did not have class and it was actually cold which is odd during summer. I think the purpose of the activities done today were to show us different facets of  leader and how one can work in a group with different kind of leaders.

I was well-rested today because I was aware that I would have to wake up early for our ropes courses. My roommate was out because of her regular checkup so the whole room was for me but I was scared if my alarm did not ring on time I would not have anyone to remind me. Since, everything went well, I woke up in time. We hurried to grab breakfast around 7:20 so that we could get on the bus on time. During the bus ride, I looked at the window and observed the scene. Like I had mentioned before in other blogs, there are greenery all around the Providence. There were plenty of trees on the edge of highway and rain made it more beautiful. Being in rain is not fun but it is enjoyable to look at rain through the window.

Haffenreffer Estate
Once we got there, Dean Rose welcomed us (Women and Leadership and Ethical Leadership).  I did not know that Dean Rose was the one who created Leadership Institute. I think creating the whole institute and allowing younger people to join and teach the leader qualities is one of the great ideas of her. The low rope courses took place at Haffenreffer Estate in Bristol, RI. She gave a quick history on the place; it used to be inhabited by Native Americans where they also fought a war during mid-1600s against colonists. Then, each of the staff coordinator and leader fellows gave their introduction and a fun fact about them. We were then divided in certain groups. My group was assisted by Heidi (Women and Leadership’s leader) and Kisa (she taught W&L last year). Before starting the Low ropes course, we did some of the fun activities. Few of the activities done in the beginning were for fun. We played the game learnt yesterday where we could not show our teeth and had to pass a word around the group. If we showed our teeth, we would be eliminated. Second game was hard to understand but eventually, I got it. It was passing around invisible ball around the group.
Team walking towards the woods.

Finally, we did some activities that required working as a group in order to complete it. We were given some pieces of pipe in which we had to slide a ball. First, we had trouble to get the ball inside the box located far from the start line because we all were in rush and did not build any strategies. After few tries, we realized that we need to communicate and find a way to work with each other. This activity taught us that we all need to work together as a group and failing does not mean we should give up. Each time we fail, we find out what we can improve to reach the end point. Second activity was more about trusting each other. We had to fall and our partner would catch us. In order to work in a group, we need to trust each other rather than questioning every time. We all got in a close circle and when I was in middle. I leaned down and they rotated me around (like a clock’s hand) and the whole time I felt safe because I knew my group would catch me if anything happened. I think these activities prepared us from Low ropes course and gave us idea on what should applied when we work as a group.

Talking about the rules
One of the first ropes course activities was to get on the other side with the help of rope with loop. I would call this activity as a trust building activity.  We had to make sure none of us were left behind. Second, was like a math puzzle where we had to get on the other side using two bars and it had to be perpendicular or diagonal.  Eventually, all of us worked together to get on the other side by using each other’s idea. Next, we had to stand on a wooden board (supposed as a ship) and balance it. During this activity, most us were trying to speak and this turned out to be a problem. It was the hard activity of all because we failed many times and honestly speaking, I wanted to give up. Each time we failed, we were able to notice what went wrong and how we could fix it. In the end, we finally could balance it and the fun part was singing the song, “Call me maybe” to get the ship going on the voyage. I felt like we achieved something essential after it was balanced because we had been trying so hard to get there. The different kind of leaders came out during this activity and we got opportunity to learn how we solve problem as a group when there are so many ideas coming out from everyone.

We had to end early because it started raining but all the activities taught us how to cope with real life situations where we have to work as a team. Sometimes, it is better to step down and sometimes it is necessary to step up. Now that, we recognize different type of leader, we can be able to balance it out.

Fun was absolutely part today’s activity but we also learned about group dynamics in practical way. It has been 4 days in Women and Leadership class but it feels like a family. I am fortunate to be part of Ivy League Connection. I could have never experienced all this new things on my own. 
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