Saturday, November 10, 2012

Panels, Workshops, and Interactive Activates

Today’s Symposium agenda changed my definition of a full day. What I used to consider a productive day pales in comparison to what we accomplished today at the Leadership Symposium. The day was filled with panels, workshops, and interactive activates. In addition to all this, we somehow made the time to introduce ourselves to a range of new people and connect with those we met at this summer.

Surprisingly, I woke up before my alarm this morning. After getting ready to leave, my roommate and I headed down to the Hotel Providence dinning room for breakfast. During breakfast, I sat down with a few people I met last night and enjoyed a delicious toasted bagel with fresh fruit and yogurt. After admiring the massive chandeliers in the dining room, we board the busses and headed to Brown.

Upon arriving at Brown, I was intrigued by the fall colors and the actual Brown students on campus. Immediately after stepping off the bus, both the RAs and the brisk air encouraged us inside the Barus and Holley building for a Starr Fellow Panel. The Panel was made up of Brown students who each took part in the creation of a program advocating social change in their community or, in many cases, the nation. One young man, Sydney, created an organization to connect children with cancer to professional athletes. Another woman, Emily, started and organization called Hip Hop 4 Social Change. One man created a program, which integrates math and basketball into the same curriculum. Listening to these wonderful individuals who had contributed so much to making the world a better place really motivated me to start working more on my action plan.

After the panel, we split up into our resource and consulting groups and discussed our action plans with a member of the Starr Fellow Panel and a Brown professor. We first discussed the challenges of our actions plans and then brainstormed ideas to help overcome obstacles. Despite the range of plans, everyone seemed to face similar problems. The most common problem, and a big problem for me, was time management, so we spent the majority of the time discussing ways to overcome this huge issue. Through this consulting session I not only gained insight as to what others were doing for their action planes, but also tactics to carry out my action plan in a productive and efficient way.

After what seemed like just a few minutes, our two and a half hour lunch break had arrived. With a group of Leadership students, I headed to Thayer Street, where we spent at least an hour figuring out where to eat.  After finally choosing a salad and sandwich place, we headed back to the main green to enjoy our short time on the Brown campus.

After lunch, we split up into groups again to take part in the two workshops of our choice. I first attended a workshop on working collaboratively with high school teachers and administrators. While trying to start the school garden, it has been challenging for me to effectively communicate with several teachers who are all part of the garden. Through this workshop, I learned more about the structure of the education system, and gained an understanding of many of the conflicting interests school administrators are forced to deal with everyday. I then attended a workshop on planning and running an effective meeting. I singed up for this workshop because I have never run a meeting, but understand that I will probably have to run many in order to successfully implement my action plan. This workshop was run very effectively and left me with concrete model as to how to run a meeting successfully. These two workshops were each just over an hour, but everything discussed was incredibly relevant to my action plan and I know that what I learned will serve me for years to come.
By the time the workshops were over, it was time for dinner. We walked over to the Ratty and ate in the private dinning room downstairs. Despite that we ate in a different room, I recognized the flavors of the fried chicken and macaroni and cheese as the same dishes I ate this past summer.

I was so full from dinner that I was not sure I would be able to dance at the Hip Hop 4 Social Change presentation we attended after dinner. Luckily, the organization began with a quick presentation, so I had a little time to digest my food. After the presentation, we formed a gigantic circle and watched as professional dancers did some pretty amazing moves. Later, they taught us a few of the basics. I’m a terrible dancer, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this interactive presentation.

The panel, workshops, and interactive activates today at the Leadership Symposium provided me with momentum to really kick off my action plan. I gained insight from individuals who, just a few years ago were going through the same struggles as me but, are now incredibly successful.  Having the opportunity to collaborate with students and come up with solutions to our problems was a huge source of motivation. I left the Symposium confident in my ability to start a school garden at El Cerrito High and I can’t wait to go home and make some major progress. 

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