I awoke this morning at almost eight, hurrying to get dressed and go downstairs and get breakfast. In the dining hall, there was a buffet filled with muffins, fruit salad, juices, and bagels; a delicious spread. I made good conversation with my friends and happily awaited for the buses to arrive.
When I first saw Brown, my heart lifted. I missed the campus so much and so many memories flooded back. I smiled and my eyes brightened. Our skill building workshops took place in the Engineering building, which was filled with many auditoriums. The entire group met in an auditorium and were greeted by an alumni panel. The alumni were Leadership Institute alumni who spoke to us about their Action Plans!
Irene Rojas-Carroll: Everyone who reads this blog should know Irene, and if you do not, you have not been reading closely enough! Irene took Women and Leadership in Summer 2010. Her Action Plan was to tackle bullying and homophobia at El Cerrito High School through our school's GSA, which Irene was president of in her junior and senior years of high school. To combat the homophobic slurs and bullying, Irene designed freshman through senior classroom workshops that would educate the students about LGBTQ issues. About eight to ten GSA members participated in the workshops. Irene got more confident with her project and realized she couldn't do everything on her own. Her Action Plan made GSA stronger. Irene's timeless leadership definitely helped to lower the homophobic slurs at our school; I do not hear them in the hallways as often as I did before she implemented her Action Plan. Irene is currently a freshman at Brown University.
Chris Davis: Chris took a Documentary Film course at Brown. In Zambia, majority of the population suffers from extreme poverty and many children are left orphaned. Chris and his siblings took tennis lessons and began sending their spare tennis rackets and shoes to Zambia. Now they help 700-800 kids. His old elementary school has been a huge help in helping the program grow. Chris is a junior in high school.
Kara Lim: Kara took Leadership and Global Development at Brown in Summer 2006. Her Action Plan consisted of going to Tibet twice and helping children and orphans aged from 9-19. She helped them draw and write their stories, and hopes to publish a book with their works. Kara also wants to help tutor Tibetans in Boston. She is currently a sophomore at Wesleyan University.
Nora Katz: Nora took Leadership and Global Development at Brown in Summer 2010. Her Action Plan was to fund-raise an event to help the homeless and at-risk youth. Nora is currently a senior in high school. She gave us her top 10 tips on having an amazing Action Plan:
- Have a good pitch
- Be Flexible
- Learn to Love
- Be Professional
- Embrace your personality
- Embrace Challenges
- Care about the outcome
- Be passionate and excited
- Love every minute
- Be excited
After the panel, we were allowed to ask questions. I asked if any of the alumni ever felt like completely giving in on their Action Plan. Lately I've been feeling discouraged and have been trying so hard to get my inspiration back. The advice that was given to be in that the project's result is going to be so rewarding. The hardest times are when you are under pressure, but you have to keep going and it's worth it to try and keep going. I value this advice.
After a break, we got into groups with those whose Action Plan topics are similar to ours. I was grouped in "Curricular and Extra Curricular School Programming." After explaining my Action Plan to the group, the advice that was given to me was to facilitate more communication meetings with the Angaza student and adult board and try to find ways to meditate myself more often when I'm under stress. Here are the other Action Plans in my group:
- Laura - Teach a human rights course at her high school and have a club that helps raise awareness about child labor in America.
- Dalen - Sort kitchen trash into compost at his high school
- Jonah - Introduce a Judaic tradition of visiting the sick and offer it as community service at his high school
- Maddie - Hold another Youth Leadership Summit focused on diversity awareness and have lunches with the diversity club
- Doni - Keep kids in her high school involved with sports and not on the streets
After that skill building activity, we were rewarded with a pizza lunch in the Fraunce Arch, where we later took our group picture. Here is the beautiful result:
We then walked back to the Engineering building and broke off into groups again. When we checked into Symposium, we signed up for two workshops. I signed up for Facilitating a Meeting and Stress Management.
Facilitating a Meeting was led by the lovely Dean Rose. The meeting consisted of about nine girls, and we discussed issues we'd have with meetings in the past, but also the positives of other meetings. Our meeting tips were to:
- Be more organized
- Make an agenda
- Seek advice
- Time limits on how long a person can speak
- No interruptions
- Presentation of ideas
- Good to have a discussion and make decisions
- Do icebreakers
- Parking Lot: Great ideas but they don't have to do with your agenda, but keep them stored in your mind
Stress Management was led by Laura, another Leadership Fellow. This group was much bigger, with about twenty people. We went over stressers and results of stress:
- Easily distracted
- Too much sleep
- Feeling grumpy
We then did an exercise where we laid on the floor and relaxed our muscles. I, like most others, completely dozed off but in a relaxing way. The hilarious thing was how D'ara completely fell asleep and began snoring very loudly - simply hilarious.
The workshops were over, which meant free time! I took advantage of this and had dinner with Irene and Guadalupe in the Ratty. It was nice to eat some food and meet some of Irene and 'Lupe's college friends. After dinner, Irene and I then traveled to the LGBTQ Center, where I met more of Irene's friends. I read some books while she worked on papers for her Brown v. Board of Education course.
Irene and I had planned to watch a Spoken Word Poetry show later that evening, and we invited Mariko and 'Lupe to join us. We bumped into Donna Chung, who is not only a senior at Brown, but she is the older sister of Sharon Chung, who graduated from El Cerrito High School in 2011 with Irene! I had Journalism with Sharon last school year and enjoyed her company. Donna graduated from ECHS in 2008 and is double majoring in Education and Psychology. She also told us how she took French in high school and continued it in college, and she studied abroad during spring semester last school year in Paris, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Sadly, Donna could not join us for the show, but I definitely enjoyed her company and testimonies about college life. At the show, Mariko and I were very lucky to bump into Tiffany, our RA and TA from the summer! We were delighted to see her.
The Spoken Word Show was inspiring. I loved the stories and was very happy to see student life at Brown - it's diverse, funny, and happy. I could definitely see myself fitting in here. I like it at Brown.
Unfortunately, Mariko and I had to leave the show early to catch the bus back to the hotel, but we definitely enjoyed the experience.
Tomorrow is the last day at Symposium, which is heartbreaking. I don't want to leave, don't want to go back to high school...I just want to enjoy life in Providence, my second home. I don't want to leave the girls again, because I'm afraid this time will really be the last time some of us ever see each other again.