Monday, July 22, 2013

Speak Your Truth

I went to sleep last night with a fan blowing directly in my face. When I woke up, the beautiful morning sun glared through my window.  My roommate turned around on her bed and told me that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was in labor. We both squealed in excitement and I asked her to update me on any new information. We both wished one another good luck and then I gathered my items and walked down to the lobby.
Watson CIT
We decided to eat breakfast at the Sharpe Refectory or otherwise known as the Ratty. The food was not spectacular but they have a good selection of fruit that I appreciated. After our quick breakfast, we headed to the Watson CIT building for our class. We arrived approximately twenty minutes before 9AM so we had some time to relax before the teacher came. I honestly had no idea of what to expect. I have attended a handful of leadership conferences and workshops, and I had pleasant experiences with all of them. I previously met a few other students who would be taking the course. Luckily they did not appear to be hardcore feminists and they seemed to be in the same boat as me.

The beginning of the class started with the usual introductions. Dean Almandrez, the professor of our Women and Leadership course, introduced herself and the two other helpers that will be involved in our class.

Women and Leadership Class
After she introduced herself, she instructed us to introduce ourselves to other people. I actually enjoy participating in these activities since it is the easiest way to meet others. Afterwards we had a discussion about what we hoped we would gain from the class and what we did not want to occur. The primary fear was that students would not be understanding or respectful towards the beliefs of other students in the class.  She told us about the learning community guidelines we would have to follow. One of the guidelines, "speak your truth" is, in my opinion, one of the main objectives of the class. The primary purpose of the course is to share your thoughts and to be willing to share your beliefs although others may disagree.  

Our first discussion was about the 7 categories of “otherness”: social class, ability, age, religion, gender, and ethnicity. We also divided into small groups to discuss three categories, out of the seven, of identity that you are aware of or that are significant to you. My group consisted of a Chinese-American who attended an international school in Hong Kong, another student who went to public school in an affluent area, and someone who attended boarding school. Despite the major differences in our locations, we found similarities within our schools. It was surprising that my small school could be similar to an international school across the ocean. The group discussion also incorporated the practice of listening skills. At 11:30AM we went to lunch and came back around 1PM. 

In the afternoon session we watched a video of a speech, titled, “The Danger of a Single Story.”  It was given by Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian author, who describes testimonials in which she was subjected to stereotypes and when she was at fault for placing implications on others. We once again joined our previous groups and discussed our reactions of the documentary. We decided that the media is a major contributor to the single story that others see of people of different cultures. For example, major broadcasting channels in the US occasionally discuss protests that occur in different parts of the world. However with the flick of a button, you are exposed to updates from all around the world on BBC. I am glad that we acknowledge these issues so that we are aware of when we judge others by a societal view that is placed upon a specific group of people. After our group discussions, Dean Almandrez went over a few terms that may have been ambiguous to us. I was extremely interested in how she would define race. I knew “race” had no true definition, but others tend to confuse it with ethnicity or nationality. She described race as a term that was created by society to justify the differences between the dominant and subordinate cultures. Her definition was honestly the most legitimate one that I have heard thus far. 

Sayles Hall

At 3:40PM I walked with other girls in my building towards Sayles Hall. Although I heard it was going to be interactive, I imagined it to be in a classroom setting. I was proven wrong when I walked into a vast wooden room that had portraits around the entire hall. It turns out we participated in a workshop that was going to help us determine what type of leader we are. It described four types of leaders and divided them by North, East, South, and West. The North leaders are proactive and assertive and the south leaders are supportive and want to hear everyone’s opinion. The East leaders tend to look at the bigger picture, but the West leaders are known to move carefully and follow procedures. I considered myself to be a South leader since I always want others to contribute their opinion to a decision. Most of the descriptions were exactly correct. They asked us which leader would be the exact opposite from our leadership styles. The North leaders are extremely different from me. However their leadership styles are my weakest leadership abilities. For example, North leaders are decisive and are quick to act. However at times I can be indecisive so I could practice some of the North leadership styles. After acknowledging the pros and cons of being the type of leader that I am, I know what steps I need to take to make myself the leader that I aspire to be.  I enjoyed the workshop because now I have a better outlook of the type of person I want to be towards the end of this course.
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