Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Speaking The Truth

I have only been at Brown for three days, yet I feel like I know many of the people I’ve met for much longer. Part of this is due to the openness among students here. People are accepting of one another and although everyone comes from a different place, people are able to find things to talk about. Everyone wants to meet new people and is not hard to relate to others. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to meet a wide range of unique individuals in such an open environment.

Today our class focused on public speaking. A public speaking professor named Jennifer Madden came in to help us on this often-dreaded topic. From the moment Professor Madden entered the room I was able to see her confidence. She was both assertive and engaged with the audience. I knew she would have a lot to teach us. Professor Madden had a way of making us feel confortable. When we shared our concerns about public speaking, she responded with a personal story.

We started out by making a list of things to be aware of when speaking publically. Just reviewing many of these tips made me realize how often I forget some of the most basic necessities of public speak such as posture or eye contact. After lunch, we practiced impromptu speeches. We split up into three groups and were given a choice between two random topics. Each person had one minute to prepare a speech in front of the rest of the people in their group. It was interesting for me to see the different styles of speaking. Each person used the space and time they were given in a unique way. After I spoke, the feedback I received was extremely helpful. I am now much more confident in my ability to present my action plan next Friday.

After class, I interviewed my grandmother about her life as a woman. Through this interview I was able to see that although my grandmother didn’t have as many opportunities as I do, she still enjoyed her life. I found it interesting that, from her perspective, opportunities have lead to unwanted complexity. Although I value the freedom I have to make decisions, I also appreciate the idea that to much freedom may lead to unhappiness.

In the evening, all of the girls in the Women and Leadership class came together for community time. This evening, the theme was diversity. In silence, we each received a colored piece of construction paper with a shape on it. Still in silence, we were asked to split into groups. The vast majority of people immediately moved to join those with the same type of paper as themselves. We then discussed why we all did this and how it might relate to the outside world. I was part of the group with the fewest people; we represented the minority. It was amazing to see how the groups we formed parallel the divisions in society.
Another beautiful part of Brown. 

After this exercise, we all stood in a circle and the leadership fellows read personal statements related to class and social standing. If the statements applied to us, we stepped into the circle. Through this exercise, I learned a lot about the backgrounds of those in my class. More importantly, however, I was able to recognize that no matter where we come from, we are accepted. Here, people see one another as unique individuals rather than just part of a specific group. If the rest of the world could do the same, we would have far fewer problems.  

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