Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rain or Shine

Today it rained on the way to breakfast, but by the time we left for class about 20 minutes later, it had stopped! I can’t get used to this Rhode Island weather!
Rainy day
In class today, we reviewed the material from yesterday, and then guest speaker Dean Rose, who established the Leadership Institute in 2002, came in and talked to our class about leadership.

One of the activities she had us do was write a short paragraph about a time when we had to confront someone about a topic that may have been controversial. I wrote about my journalism teacher, Ms. Fitch, who had told me that our newspaper was “too white.” As Editor in Chief of the school paper, this offended me, because I had made a conscious effort to include a variety of ethnicities in the paper, and to write articles that were directed at various ethnic groups. When I confronted her about the issue, and explained my point of view, she was not open to another perspective. This was frustrating, because I didn’t know how to address the issue without upsetting her. What Dean Rose taught us, was that we need to give people a chance to process and think about what we have said.

She also explained that leadership is the “process of influencing others.” I agree with this definition, however, I believe that leadership is more about being able to accomplish goals, and being able to articulate your thoughts. In addition, she put a lot of stress on the importance of using "I Statements," which means you also speak in first person, and don’t group together different people.

Something that Dean Rose said that I recognized I needed to work on was that leaders need to be able to listen, and put other things aside if those things get in the way of accomplishing the goal. Even though “society sanctioned multitasking,” it is important when you are in a leadership position, that you set a good example for others, and really focus on what you have set out on which to work.

We then discussed fundraising. The necessary questions consist of who the audience is, how much money you are intending to raise, how much time you have, how many resources you have, how many options you have, and how you will go about the plan. Dean Rose also stated that we need to be more interactive when planning a fundraiser, and that young people are critical thinkers, but are not compassionate. I agree with this to some extent, but I think after she put such an emphasis on using "I Statements," it was wrong of her to generalize all young people.

At the end of the morning class, Dean Rose concluded her session by stating that she hates the phrase “young people are our future.” At first I was confused as to what she meant by this, but she then explained that this expression implies that young people can’t make a difference now, while they’re still young. She then mentioned Malala, who was shot by the Taliban for simply demanding the education she deserves. I had never thought about it before, but now I agree with Dean Rose, because I believe young people, including myself, can make a difference in the world.

When we went to lunch, it was perfectly sunny outside. However, as we were walking back to class, we got caught in the rain! The raindrops were cold, but the air was hot. It was very strange.
Our classroom
When we came back to class after lunch, we discussed the Cycle of Socialization. We then did a group activity in which we were assigned to the steps of the Cycle of Socialization Systematic Training. My group was assigned to discuss the results. In our presentation, we considered how the dominants, the privileged, often feel guilty for the subordinates, the underprivileged, yet take no action. Dominants also have a limited worldview, and continue the social system by embracing the status quo, and not challenging the system. In contrast, the subordinates are often angry because they are thought of as inferior, which sparks violence and crime. This is due to internalized oppression, meaning that members of an oppressed group come to internalize the oppressive attitudes of others toward themselves, and those like them. While the dominants and subordinates are very different, they share the common practice of not questioning the system, or their identities.

We then discussed the differences between prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination. I knew they were different, although I could not pinpoint these differences. Dr. Almandrez defined prejudice as a pre-judgment, stereotype as attributing characteristics of one specific person to all members of their group, and discrimination as acting upon these injustices.

We then got to brainstorm on our Action Plans, which was really exciting! While we brainstormed, I saw that I could write a play! I am so excited to get started! I had some other ideas as well, but I think this is the one I would most enjoy.

After class, we went back to the dorms and did some homework. Then we went with our floor to the Hunger Banquet. We weren’t really sure what it was, although we had heard from other people that some people didn’t get any food. When we got there, they handed each of us a slip of paper that had a colored dot: orange, green or purple. I got purple. As we sat and waited for everyone to file in, we were informed of what the dots represented: social class. The orange was for the wealthy class, and anyone with an orange dot got to sit at a table and have a banquet meal. The green was the middle class, and anyone with a green dot sat in chairs and got a small portion of rice, and some chips and soda. The purple (ironically, as it is the color of royalty) was for the poor, who sat on the ground and ate a small bowl of rice without utensils. Then we watched a video about poverty around the world and how many people struggle to even obtain water. This made me feel really lucky even to have the small bowl of rice, because I knew that there are people in developing countries who don’t. The video really made me want to help out, either by volunteering, or donating food, to local food banks and organizations.

When we walked back from the Hunger Banquet, it started pouring! We ran about half the way, our hair and shoes completely soaking. It was a little fun, but afterwards I felt really uncomfortable being covered in sopping wet clothing.

It felt like a long day, and I’m so grateful to be here to experience it. I am extremely excited about my Action Plan, and I can’t wait to get started!
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