Monday, July 9, 2012

First is not the worst!

While today was the first day of class, it also marks the last leg of the trip, which is a crazy realization when there's so much to be done! I plan to savor every bit of these next two weeks- and what a great way to start it off!

I woke up a little too early to get ready for class. Because I didn't know how long it would take me to get dressed, get to the dinning hall, etc. I woke up at seven for a 9:30AM class. Now I know I can probably sleep until 7:30AM and still have plenty of time to eat and get to class with a few minutes to spare.

I arrived at class today and was greeted by a friendly Kisa, our instructor. She immediately made me feel comfortable and any nervousness I had, quickly dissolved. Class started out with some very basic but helpful name games. I am proud to say, I now know the name of every student in the course and one thing they like that has the same first letter as their name. (example: I'm Maddie and I like monkeys).

Kisa walked us through the normal schedule of a class and then we came up with some guidelines for class discussions including: listening as well as respecting people's input and opinions. She also passed out a detailed syllabus with a description of each day's topics and homework. The syllabus also included an outline of our Action Plan which is the project we'll be forming throughout our time here and then putting in to action back home either in our community or just to better ourselves.

The main focus of today's discussion was communication. It was led by Dean Rose. She walked the class through some exercises to practice active listening. In groups of two, we took turns playing the speaker and the listener. As the listener, one would show they were listening without speaking. This resulted in a lot of nodding and smiling. Dean Rose also talked about how to communicate frustration in an effective and constructive way by using "I" statements and avoiding words like: never, always and should.

After class, I explored the campus with some new friends and did a load of laundry. Then we all went down for dinner. However, dinner was a little rushed because we had to meet in the Main Green for Community Hours which is a workshop for all Leadership Institute students. We spent a little time as a big group and then split off in to our respective classes. Today's workshop was on the Leadership Compass. The Leadership Compass was originally a Native American idea that a leader from the North has different characteristics than one from the  South.

With each type of leader posted on each wall of the room, we moved around and found the one we most identified with. There was discussion about how it's important to have qualities of all directions in your practices and if you don't to improve and collaborate.

It was an exciting day to say the least. I am meeting such wonderful people and enjoying my class so much already! Now I'm off to this homework and the best part is, I'm actually looking forward to diving in to the reading.

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