Today was the longest and most challenging days of the entire trip. It was my first day of class, and I had no idea what to expect. I entered a room with about twenty girls, and sat down randomly amongst them. Right away Kisa Takesue, our teacher, introduced herself and what the class was about. She went over the syllabus, and we became aware that we were going to have nightly reading, journal entries, three projects, and an action plan for our capstone project. She also wanted to make sure that we were aware of a few concepts. She stated that there was no such thing as a perfect leader, and advised us to get rid of the concept of perfection because it inhibits one from taking risks. She also stated that leadership comes through meaning. Finally she challenged us to look at all topics through the lense of women and gender, from ovarian cancer to environmental issues.
Next we did some team building and ice breakers. Right away I was shocked to see so many girls who participated so strongly in class and who voiced their oppinions as much as I do. At first I was worried that so many strong leaders would clash and cause conflict, but by the end of the day I was extremely impressed how well everybody was able to communicate and cooperate to be productive.
After lunch we were given a paper with statistics about various issues concerning gender, and were asked to guess whether they were true or false with the person sitting next to us. When we went over them, it was interesting to see the different guesses, the reasoning behind those predictions, and the true statistics that Kisa presented to the class after each one. After that we went over ground rules, and then we discussed leadership values. These values seemed to be the theme of the day, as they were brought up again in the leadership workship from 7-9 PM, and also in the assigned reading and journal writing.
I faced two challenges today, and both of them challenged each other. The first one was meeting new people. In class it was easy to talk to the other girls in such a controlled and forced environment, and all of them seemed to be incredibly intellegent and friendly. However, as soon as lunch started, I was again faced with teh challenge of stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying to meet new people, always with the fear of rejection in the back of my mind. When I finally gathered my courage, they all responded really well and seemed to try their best to be inclusive. All of the girls had their own stories, came from all over the country (and one from Hong Kong), had different accents and were different ages. Despite all the differences, however, I felt that we all had a lot in common, especially in regards to our mentalities and approaches to academics.
The conflicting challenge became very apparent later in the night. I spent so much time trying to get to know people and develope relationships that I made my classroom assignments a second priority. I later regretted this, as I wasn't able to finish until 1:30 AM. If anything, this experience will truly teach me about time management in college, because I am now finding that it is much different from managing your time in highschool.
Although I had some low parts of the day, it ended on a high. I was able to meet some new people, and I truly enjoyed the class. I already know that this will be a fantastic learning experience, both academic and social. I am finally getting a true taste of college.