Saturday, November 10, 2012

Action Filled Day

The first full day of the symposium was action packed. After a light breakfast of bagels and fruit, I chatted with a couple of people around my table. By 8:45 AM, the buses came to take us to Brown from the hotel.
Our first activity was in the Barus and Holley building (B&H building), in a medium sized auditorium. There we had the Starr Fellow panel of five Brown students that have made impact to their communities. Each students, and though their names escape me at the moment, had inspiring stories. The purpose of this panel was to motivate and inspire the students at the Symposium and give them a chance to ask questions. Though all of the five students are much older than most of us, they were able to connect with us because just like us, they had stories that drove their passion to act on an issue that is important to them.
Afterwards, we had breakout sessions. We reported to our assigned rooms for a resource/consulting group session. I was alarmed when I could not find my name anywhere on the lists of groups, so I immediately asked Kisa. It turns out that they have left me out! Luckily, she was able to assign me to the first group. Our mentor was Dean Rose. I have met her through the summer program, so I was already familiar with her. In the session, each student in the group shared their Action Plans, our progress, and our challenges. Though most of the plans differed in motives or hoped outcomes, I realized that almost each of us faced the same challenges. Most of which were balancing schoolwork, gaining support from the school staff, and getting students involved. Dean Rose gave us helpful counseling by letting us get our opinions across. We also got a lot of feedback and advice from each other.  It was especially helpful to me because it allowed me to really organize my vision and see some things that I have missed. Since I had to readjust my project, I was able to reconstruct it in a way that makes sense to my audience. I really enjoyed this part of my Saturday. It reminded me how important considering feedback from people is when trying to implement almost any project.
"Beat the Streets" showcase
During our two and a half hour lunch break, Iris, Aby, and I roamed Thayer Street. It was weird how familiar we were with the area. We even knew the street names! I picked up a couple of small souvenirs from the Brown book store. Lunch break was interesting because there was a live art/hiphop show in front of FroYo World. It was a show by Brown University’s HipHop 4, called “Beat the Streets”.  They had acapella singers, b-boy crews, and live graffiti art. It was to promote art and music as an outlet against pressures of growing up in the streets. It was awesome because one of the panelists during the Starr Fellow panel was actually one of the founders of HipHop 4. It was nice to see some of her work in action.
Interesting live graffiti art during lunch time
The Main Green is so full of memories!
We reported in front of the Wilson Hall for a group photo after lunch. All 65 students who were accepted to the Symposium arranged for a photo. I have yet to see them, but Kisa said that they will be in the Symposium’s official Facebook page. We then headed back to the B&H building for two skill building workshops. My first workshop was called “What’s your Story? Marketing & communicating your work.”  In this workshop, I worked with a marketing expert that helped us build our marketing and communicating skills. During the workshop, I shared my Action Plan’s background story, in which I as able to provide extra details as to how I ended up wanting to act on that certain issue. I realized how important it is to only have necessary details because too much detail can throw your audience off. Next, we learned how to devise effective speeches that will surely sell our plan. Having a concise, straight forward message with a hint of humility is the formula. Well, in my opinion it is. It is what I learned from my first workshop. I also learned effective ways to advertise and put myself out there. This included utilizing the Social Media and using that as a medium for staying relevantt. I was also reminded about flyers and business cards, and exactly how effective they are. The biggest thing I learned, though, would have to be trying to communicate in a personal level. Setting up meetings to talk in person rather than sending emails is definitely a better way to establish relationships, especially with potential partners.
My second workshop was called “Successful Collaboration with Teachers and School Administration”.  I learned the world of a school administration. Basically, in order for them to take me seriously, I have to first recognize and understand the complicated world that they work in. The two mentors that lead the workshop were former teachers. One is even a real life school principal for a school in New England.  That was great because he was credible. He knew what he was talking about because he is talking about his job. I learned about the different types of people and organizations that influence how public & private schools are run. I learned how this all correlates to speaking effectively with the school admin. A way to get your plans approved is by offering or clearly showing an incentive for them.  Realizing or maybe adjusting your plan so that it can be approved by your principal/teacher’s boss is even better because I think admins would much rather keep their jobs than to lose it by approving a student’s small project. Lastly, we were taught how to properly approach a school staff, including the principal or teacher. Politeness goes a really long way. Being polite and understanding of their busy schedules is a good way of showing that you respect or value their time.
We had dinner at Brown. An hour or so later, we walked to the Alumnae Hall for our last activity of the day: HipHop 4  Social Change. To my surprise, we were greeted by most of the same dancers that we watched during lunch time. They were two b-boy crews that make up the HipHop 4 project:  the 401 crew and the G818ERS. HipHop 4’s objective is to utilize the four elements of hiphop: beatboxing, DJing, MCing, and B-boying to help underprivileged kids find an outlet to keep them on track with school. They do this by holding non-profit showcases such as the one we watched in Thayer Street. They also come to elementary schools and teach children about hiphop and art. After their presentations, they actually taught us some b-boy moves. How awesome, right? I learned some groovy moves. Of course, I will never be as good as they are, but I do think that was extremely fun. Every single one of the Symposium attendees participated, even our RAs.
401 Crew & The G818ers
One of the other exciting things about the hiphop workshop was the fact that the G818ERS is actually based in California! It made me so proud that they persevered through a tough community in the Los Angeles area and gave back to the community. They were also surprised that we were from California. After the workshop, Iris, Aby, and I introduced ourselves to them. It was a fun workshop overall. I really respect what Hiphop 4 is trying to do, especially because I am a huge hiphop lover. (The G818ers’ website:
We headed back to the hotel around 9:45 PM. When we got there, we were given an optional chance to stay at the ballroom and eat deserts. There, I was able to meet three Korean students that are also part of the Symposium. It was cool to meet international students. One even knew how to speak Spanish!
Tomorrow marks our last day here in Brown. It will be a short day. I will also be heading back to California tomorrow. It breaks my heart that I will have to say goodbye a second time to place that means so much to me.

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