I have a hard time believing that this is the second day of class. While logic tells me that I have only been at Brown for 52 hours or so, I feel that I have been here for a very long time. Already I find myself thinking, “Oh, it’s time to go to class/dining hall/check in with my RA again,” as if I have done these things for many days if not weeks. I can only imagine what I will think once I have actually been here for a couple weeks.
In the morning, we attempted to identify our passions and purposes in life as a way of beginning to brainstorm for our action plans. One exercise that we used was building “passion sculptures.” Each student was given three pipe cleaners and asked to bend them into a shape that represented something important to them.
Staring at my blue, brown, and yellow pipe cleaners, I realized that one of my problems is that I have a lot of things I care about. It was difficult for me to narrow it down to only three. Possible topics that flitted through my head included soccer, music, community service, family, and reading. Perhaps surprising to those of you who know me well, I did not choose soccer, nor did I choose music as one of my topics.
Instead, I chose three topics that people do not always associate with me: community service, reading (that one is not so surprising), and, for lack of a better word, relationships. To clarify, by relationships I mean the way people interact with one another; I hate it when people don’t get along just because they misunderstand one another or make judgmental assumptions. (While I know that it’s easy to make assumptions about others and I do it too, I think that’s important to be conscious that you’re doing this and to challenge your assumptions. This was brought up in class as we all got to know each other a little better.)
I chose those topics because I wanted to choose topics that I thought would make more of an impact. I think that it might be easier for me to come up with an action plan based on community service, relationships, and reading (which can tie into education) than soccer or music.
Lunch was a fun break after a thought-provoking morning session. My friend Kaylyn and I wandered around campus finding the mail building and dealing with student ID card issues (hers, not mine–don’t worry, Ms. Williams).
This afternoon, we had an extremely intense session with Dean Robin Rose, who I met on Sunday. Practically the first thing she did was to ask us to make a list of things we usually do when we do homework. We ended up filling one side of the whiteboard! Her point was that it is very easy in our culture to become distracted and not put our full attention into the task at hand. She then asked us to please try to be as focused as possible during the next two hours. I realized afterwards that I actually had been concentrating almost solely on her lecture!
Another sage piece of advice that Dean Rose offered was to never tell yourself that you are “bad at something.” For example, when you tell yourself you are “bad at remembering names,” you are stressing about forgetting everyone’s name instead of focusing on repeating and retaining it for the future. She calls this an example of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Our discussion covered three main topics: listening, communication, and feedback skills. This included learning about the importance of non-verbal communication and tips for group facilitation. Dean Rose was amazingly fascinating group leader and I feel like I learned a lot today. I’m happy to hear that she is coming with us on the ropes course on Thursday.