Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Action Plan Drama

Our Action Plan writing assignments are due tomorrow, and I didn't start writing mine until 8:00. Now don't get the wrong impression, I wasn't procrastinating the whole time. I realize that I am unable to start writing until I am confident in what I have to say. This was a problem for me, because the feasibility of my project lied primarily on the support from another non-profit, and they didn't respond to my email until this morning. When I finally did recieve it, I was disappointed by the response. I assumed that they would be more willing to support a young person so passionate about the cause, but instead they made it clear that they were too busy and could clear up to 30 minutes of their time for a conversation.
This response, I must admit, was terrifying. I felt like my project was already falling apart before it even started. Luckily, Kisa told me about Farm Fresh Rhode Island, and when I called them they gave me a lot of advice and made it seem like this project was actually possible. This was extremely helpful, and definitely a confidence boost.
When it came to writing my paper, however, I still felt unsure about what I had to say. I felt that there was so much more that I needed to learn, so many books I wanted to read, and so much that I still need to take into consideration. But eventually I realized that self-education is part of the whole Action Plan experience. Without knowing the subject fully, you cannot hope to educate others or take a leadership position. I realize that this is part of the process, and a part that doesn't need to be accomplished before we leave. This is a continuous process, and the more that I am able to adapt to obstacles and continue to learn and pursue trying to help the cause, the more "successful" I will be.

Mid-Week Crisis

Today was a really sentimental day. I tried to avoid the fact that it was the middle of the week and that my cohort and I would be leaving on Friday. However, my friends wouldn’t let me because they kept reminding me that today and tomorrow would be our last full days here at Brown University. Brown session 1 students were right: Two weeks just isn’t enough.

We had a simple agenda: Finish up our Amazing Women Presentations and an interview with a Young Professional Women Panel, a group of young women who have awesome success stories. During the Amazing Women Presentations, I learned about my classmates’ passions and interests. Mariko and Adrianne, for example, made monologues of authors, which showed that they have an interest in books and the people who write them. My friend Abi made a monologue about Isadora Duncan, the founder of modern dance. Coincidentally, Abi is also in modern dance class and has a strong passion for it. My other friend, D’Ara, is interested in Oprah Winfrey’s productions and shows, so she did her monologue on, with no surprise, Oprah herself! When one works on what they’re interested in and have a passion for, they really get into what they’re doing and overall, have an even more interesting presentation.

The Professional Women panel included Grace Yeung, who worked as a manager at Abercrombie&Fitch, and Devienna, who runs a jewelry company. A woman named Margarita, who is on her way to receiving her master’s degree as well as Medeva, who studies in a lab and met her husband in Paris also answered our questions involving stress management and college. They gave a really good tip regarding stress: Do your easy assignments first so you’d start a good foundation of being productive. You can then focus on the bigger, harder assignments.

After class, my friends and I ran to Providence Place Mall, where we ate unhealthy food and a greasy dinner. It reminded me of home (in a comforting, homey way). We came back to the dorms and immediately got started on the abundance of homework we had to finish. Our action plans are due tomorrow and our presentations are due on Friday so there is a lot of work to be done before I can fully be satisfied with my stay here at Brown.

Down To Earth

I came down to earth with a bump today. Yesterday was a fantastic birthday, and I am so glad I could spend it with all of my new friends here at Brown. However, I only have a few more days left of class so I have to buckle down even more to finish my projects.

The rest of our class finished our Amazing Woman monologues this morning and afternoon. I was the first to present this afternoon. I “was” Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and several other books. I picked her for a few reasons:

1. Amy Tan is (more or less) from the Bay Area

2. I read her kid’s book The Moon Lady a lot when I was little and I also really liked The Joy Luck Club. In fact, when I get home I plan to reread it.

3. Kisa put a cool quote of hers into our syllabus: “If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.” While I don’t completely agree with the part about fate, I do believe in the “changing your attitude” aspect. To me, a positive attitude often makes all the difference.

When I did my research, I found out lots of information that I never knew about Ms. Tan. I won’t bore you with all the details, but one of the things that I found most impressive was her struggle with Lyme disease. She contracted it in 1999 and it went undiagnosed for about four years, during which she suffered hallucinations and other health problems. Ms. Tan now raises awareness about Lyme disease so that other people don’t go through what she did, which I found really admirable.

Above: D'ara was Oprah Winfrey. She was hilarious!

Below: Maddie was Jeanne Shaheen, the first female governor and now senator from New Hampshire. (Maddie is from New Hampshire and will be interning at Ms. Shaheen's office this summer.)

Once we were finished with the presentations, we had an ethics workshop. After all, since the Leadership Institute is teaching us the skills to be persuasive, effective leaders, it would be irresponsible of them to neglect our moral compasses. They don’t want to release a bunch of evil, corrupt leaders on the world! Which absolutely scuppers all of our plans, darn it.

A panel of four young professional women also visited this afternoon. They spoke about the challenges of balancing family and work, as well as their personal high school and college experiences. They counseled us about pursuing our interests and told us not to be afraid to try new and difficult things. One of the panelists, Grace Yeung, had met with the previous Brown cohort. Some of us from the ILC went up and talked with her briefly after class, and she was very friendly and encouraging.

After class today I pretty much made a beeline for the Science Library to do my homework. It’s now one of my favorite places on campus! The main attractions are the air conditioning and the area on the first floor that allows you to have food while you work. I got a large portion of my work done before heading off to dinner.

I am now back at work finishing up my Action Plan paper and notes for tomorrow’s practice presentations. I can hardly believe that I only have two more days here. Not even two days, really–on Friday we will be whisked off to the airport with barely a chance to say goodbye to all of our new friends. I will have to exchange contact information with everyone before I leave!

Surfing the City

I love Professor Kisa Takesue for bringing in so many special guest speakers. A good thing about the people she picks for the class is that they are all very diverse and versatile in their backgrounds, ideals, etc. They all have different experiences and can share all of them so we, as students, can see all different points of views.

Professor Takesue is a great teacher with a personality that makes you want to learn. Her personality is very bright and peppy and she even allows for short breaks and energizers to wake the class up. I've learned quite a bit of new exercises here :)
Thayer Street and Providence Place are starting to feel like a small slice of home. The street with the various boutiques and restaurants sort of remind me of a smaller Telegraph St. (Berkeley) and the mall with its familiar shops and air conditioner are all so nostalgic.

I am a bit sad to leave the city Providence though. It's so charming with the brick walls and carefully placed green plants. I took extra pictures of the architecture to bring back home. I hope to come back here again to experience the Water Fire Show with family and friends and I'd like to ride in the gondolas too.
This experience has taught me so many things. I've never been so independent before in my life. Here I have to remember to eat, do laundry, and wake up all on my own. It's a bit embarrassing to admit this, but I was really dependent on my parents before coming here. Now I feel like I can live on my own! I'm ready to take on college life!

Amazing Women and Lessons

In class, we started off with more Amazing Women monologues. Maddie had originally thought she was presenting in the afternoon, but it turned out she was in the morning group. She was concerned because she had left her props and power-suit jacket in her dorm room. To spare her from running back to the dorms and having her be under prepared, I offered to switch spots with her. Butterflies flopped in my stomach, as I remembered that I had originally wanted to practice my speech during lunch. I then calmed down by telling myself that I knew the information without having to rehearse it.

These are the people that presented in the morning and who they represented:

  • Cynthia Yip - Ruth Simmons 
  • Ava - Whitney Thompson
  • Me - Amy Chua 
  • Abi - Isadora Duncan 
  • Ludmyr - Anna Wintour 
When I went to present, my stomach flip-flopped. I held my notebook that contained my notes in my clammy hands and looked at my classmates. I told how Ms. Chua was raised "The Chinese Way", how she secretly applied to Harvard and met her husband there, and how she was a visiting professor at Duke and then became a law professor at Yale Law School (she has been teaching there since 2001). How she raised her two daughters Sophia and Lulu "The Chinese Way" as well. How Sophia practiced piano and Lulu practiced violin for six hours a day. How "The Chinese Way" worked for Sophia, but Lulu did not accept it and rebelled at the age of thirteen, how her third novel, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a memoir that was big family therapy, not a how-to guide. How she felt about the fact that her book sparked a global debate about parenting methods. How she was accused as a child abuser. How she rose above it and is now a famous author.

When I was done, my hands were not clammy anymore. I happily realized that I had only looked at the first page out of three of my notes, and when I sat down, I realized that I had said all my notes. I was pleased with myself and my performance.

After the morning performances, we got in groups to discuss our Action Plans. My group consisted of Mariko, Marilyn, Kaylyn, and Refjola. I was impressed with everyone's ideas, aspirations, and how dedicated they were to their topics.

About an hour before lunch, a professional panel of graduate Brown students came to talk to our class about challenges, college experiences, and to give us advice:

  • Grace Yeung: She graduated from Brown in 2010 and works for Abercrombie and Fitch. She was the previous Impact Systems Manager at an A&F store. She grew up in the Philippines and majored in Economics and International Relations. She said that she poured her energy into her academics at her K-12 international school, and that she really geared herself up during high school. She also stated that every three years she made a new sense of friends because every three years people would leave and come to the school. She met Brown Session 1 and told us that - it all made sense to us then; who the "Grace" the Brownies #1 had been talking about.
  • Devienna: She went to the University of Oregon and majored in science of art, concentrating in jewlery. She said she wasn't a very good student in high school and didn't like school until she went to college. She went to the Rhode Island School of Design for her masters and is currently in graduate school at Brown. She owns a  jewelery company called DA Metals. 
  • Margarida: She majored in communications at the University of Rhode Island and is going there again for her Masters. She is a first generation college student. She wasn't extremely involved in high school and went to educational camps every summer. 
  • Medeva: She went to North Carolina State University and was originally pre-med, but she started working in a lab and got very hooked on doing research. She went to graduate school in New York to get a PhD in microbiology and worked in labs in Paris. She was recruited to work at Brown to work with the Leadership Alliance. She was very serious in high school and was the Drum Major of her marching band and DJ'd part time. 
I was very pleased to hear everything the professional panel and learn about their experiences.

Grace and I
After lunch, we had more Amazing Women Monologues:

  • Mariko - Amy Tan
  • D'ara - Oprah Winfrey 
  • Maddie - Jeanne Shaheen 
  • Selena - Rachel Lloyd 
  • Kayla - Danica Patrick
After the monologues, we conducted an Ethics workshop. My group consisted of Selena and Alli. We received scenarios asking us what we would do if this happened to us. There was one scenario where a girl had to decide whether to take her intoxicated friend to the hospital and rat out her friends or risk her friend's death. We agreed that not reporting the incident would be selfish and inconsiderate of everything a good friend stands for.

After class, I went to my dorm and worked on my Action Plan paper for three hours. I was very happy when I wrote the last sentence. I feel like I did a very good job. As I write this, my good friend Irene Rojas-Carroll is editing my paper. I am excited to hear her feedback and criticism before I email the paper to Kisa.

However, while writing the paper, I became sad. In two days I will be leaving these girls and Brown University. While in the back of my head, I am thinking "It's about time to come home", I definitely will be heartbroken when we leave.

Time Management

Perhaps the most valuable educational experience I've learned here is about time management. It is much easier to set aside a separate time for studying and hanging out for friends rather than try to combine them. Things that could take an hour if you just focus and try not to multi task can end up taking 4 hours if you try to do them with friends. If you get all of your work done right away, then you have the rest of the evening to do whatever you want. In my case, that would be blogging. I'm still having a great time. I am so sad that we leave so soon. We leave on 2:30 on Friday which is very early in the evening. I hope I don't cry when I'm saying goodbye to all of the amazing friends I've made here. Time goes by so fast. Being at Brown has really made me appreciate every little beautiful moment and thing about life. This experience has taught me to cling to even the littlest things that make me happy. I love Brown University <3

No Brown Tour, but Brown Board

Students in the class presented their Amazing Women presentation. Everyone presented so well! It's a great change from what I'm used to seeing at my school. I am so proud of my fellow Women in Leadership.

There were some guest speakers today to tell us how they like their school. We never had an official Brown Tour so I was happy to have these guest speakers come in and talk about their experience. I realize that no matter who I talk to here, there is nothing bad about Brown. When asked what they do not like, there's nothing.

I'm still a little hesitant about attending this school because I feel like I'm not very well-prepared. I'm afraid that everyone will be smarter and I'll end up falling behind.

We had dinner with Ms. Williams tonight to celebrate Mariko's 16th birthday! While we were there, we had a bonding activity where we each wrote a good quality about each other and read them aloud. I kept my paper.

At the beginning of the stay at Brown, I was awfullyhomesick. That subsided pretty quickly and now we only have a few more days left. The day we leave is going to be so bittersweet. I hope I can stay in touch with everyone..
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