Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bittersweet Moments

Today was the last full day we are going to spend at Brown. I actually had a feeling of denial. I couldn't believe it. I felt like I would wake up early next morning and have the samee routine that we have slowly paved for ourselves.

We had a self-defense workshop where we learned moves from a specialist. It was a 2 hour course and pretty wicked, haha. Us ladies are now stronger than ever so don't think you can mess with us! At the end of the lesson, we all cheered and huddled together. The bond was almost tangible and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else but at Brown with these amazing girls.

Then the closing workshop we had made me realize that it is real-- We are going home tomorrow. The workshop made most of us cry. It was so emotional and I couldn't believe that we wouldn't wake up and go to sleep like this anymore. The routine became so natural so gradually that I didn't realize it setting in.

We all had friendship bracelets that we made from yarn that we passed around as we told each other how our experiences were and who we admired. This sisterhood is really the strongest bond I've ever had between such a large group of people (21). It's so sad to think that we probably wont all be able to reunite again at once.

However, we are already planning trips to different areas where our sisters reside. I love Women & Leadership 2011!

Day 17: The Last Supper

I decided to sleep in this morning for a half hour because I was still really tired. I took a shower and headed to the second floor to Cynthia's room. We all headed out for breakfast and then off to class. I ended up helping ten people print their papers, which cut into my laundry money. The class was fun today, especially when Ms. Williams, our chaperone, visited. We turned in our journals so we are done with that and we finished the reading so no more highlighting!

At lunch, I went to print out my action plan paper. Then we met up for class and headed over for our self defense class. Michelle taught us basic defensive and offensive moves, then let us practice on her (don't worry, she had padding). I learned a lot about self defense and I think it's funny that we had this class the day before we leave. a little ironic but it was worth while, nonetheless.

In the afternoon, I went to the Brown Bookstore to get headphones while my laundry was washing. It wasn't until I took my clothes out of the dryer that I realized I accidentally washed my old headphones. Then we went to our last workshop. We got into our last circle and then broke into groups based on class. Our Women & Leadership class made a leadership web, where the first person took a ball of string and passed it off to someone they considered a leader after explaining why they think that. In the end, the string was tangled between us like a web. Then our R.A.s cut the string into short strands which we made into bracelets. Then we broke up again into groups according to our R.A. We played a fun activity until it was too dark to see.

We cried so much in those two hours and I was surprised to find out that no one in the other classes cried like we did. I feel that reinforces our bond. I am truly going to miss the friends I made here. After the emotional workshop, we all went out to Johnny Rockets for our last supper.

I feel like we've known each other for a year, at least. I feel blessed to be in, seemingly, the only class to have this bond. I've shared secrets and dreams with those girls and they are like my sisters. I wish I could take the class again just so I could capture the experience.

These last two weeks have been like a dream.


We leave so early tomorrow. I am so sad. I'm not at all ready to leave the amazing friends I have made here. We are going to scatter all around the world but I am willing to swear on my life that I will never forget any of them. It feels like our hearts are actually connected and like its physically going to hurt to be so far apart from each other. I wish we could have more time. We have developed so many plans to keep us in touch with each other. The main plan, do extremely well on our action plans so that we can all come back next year to see each other. Sounds good to me. Now, I need to go pack.


So, This Is Goodbye

Tonight is my last night ever in Room 321, Harkness Hall, Brown University. In less than 24 hours I will have left Rhode Island. Wow. This really sucks.

I can’t say that I’ll miss the humidity. Or the temperature. Or the tiny showers and cafeteria food. Or the guy driving a lawnmower at 7 AM this morning who woke me up.

But I can say that I’ll miss my cozy dorm room, and the responsibility and empowerment that comes with having my own key, budgeting my money, and ensuring that I was on time for class. I can say that I’ll miss Kisa, my amazingly funny, brilliant, supportive, and encouraging teacher. I can say that I will miss Laura and Tiffany, the leader fellows for Women and Leadership. Their kindness and goofiness made life at Brown so much more engaging. Probably most of all I will miss my new friends, all 20 plus of them. Who knew that I could get so close to so many in so few days? Certainly not I.

Today was incredibly sad, and it wasn’t even the last day. Every half hour or so someone would remark, “I’m going to miss you all so much!” or “We have to keep in touch!” or “How about we just don’t leave?” With that being said, we didn’t waste our last full day moping around.

In the morning, we practiced resolving conflicts. Apparently, the key is to be assertive, that is, to firmly and calmly state your position but to be willing to listen to others and compromise if necessary. Assertive is supposed to stand in the middle of the spectrum of attitudes, with aggressive at one extreme and passive at the other. We paired up and practiced scenarios in which one would need to be assertive to reach a goal. Some of the scenarios were pretty hilarious.

For lunch, Josie, Ms. Williams, and I went to a small restaurant called Spats. My RA, Tiffany, recommended it to us because Josie and I were on a quest for New England clam chowder. We also split a mashed potato pizza... It was possibly one of the weirdest things I have eaten this trip, but it was tasty.

This afternoon we had a self-defense workshop. We were all really excited to “learn some moves,” but we learned that a lot of self-defense is just being aware and prepared. I enjoyed practicing the various punches and kicks with everyone, although our instructor assured us that these were very basic steps. We also were warned to be careful when to use these techniques. It would be pretty unfortunate if some weird guy came up to you and told you your earrings were pretty and you freaked out and palm thrusted his nose into his brain.

At 7 PM, we had our last workshop. We first met with our classmates and leader fellows. We did a cool activity where we took turns saying great leadership qualities about another person. It got pretty emotional, and about half of us started crying. We formed such a strong, supportive community while we were here and I know that I for one will miss the sense of togetherness.

Now I am packing to leave. Tomorrow we will have class in the morning and present our Action Plans after lunch. Once all the presentations are over, we ILCers are booking it to the airport to catch our plane. Bay Area, we’re coming home.

I feel that I should probably post a little something about my dorm room, since I have talked about it a little but never really put up any pictures of my room. This is my postscript to my post, as it were.

This is my bed. I usually have to sleep on top of my sheets because my room is so stuffy.

This is my window. It's always open, but there doesn't seem to be much of a breeze. Something that I heard at Wellesley is that most students aren't concerned with AC because they aren't there. The real worry is that they'll freeze to death in the winter, thus the furnace right under my window.

Above and below: This is my extraordinarily messy desk. I never have trouble finding anything on it, but it looks pretty bad. Although I had heard that the electrical outlets were behind the bed, there were also some more convenient ones right behind my desk, as you can maybe see in the picture. (There were in fact outlets behind my bed but I didn't use them.)

Left: This is what my door looks like.
Center: This is my closet. I ended up using my desk lamp to illuminate my shoes and shelves instead of my desk, since there was plenty of overhead light.
Right: This is what my RA's door looks like.

"Brown is always there to welcome you home"

I woke up this morning and realized something very saddening: today was the Brownies last full day in Providence. Our last full day at Brown. It was a heartbreaking thought. I love Brown so much and do not want to leave at all. I do not want to leave this area, these girls, this is too much to bear.

I had breakfast at The Ratty and was pleased to see they had french toast. After breakfast, I went to class and held in my emotion about it being our last regular day of class.

We watched two YouTube videos: 1) This is what a feminist looks like and 2) Feminist Survey: Men on the Street. In the first video, famous actors and actresses stated that:
  • Men can be feminists
  • Feminists are humanists 
  • Feminism doesn't mean that women hate men 
  • Acknowledgment of feminism should be considered grateful
The 2nd video was a little more painful to watch. Many girls winced at the men's opinions of feminism:
  • Lesbians 
  • "Why are you complaining about women's rights when you got the right to vote in 1920?"
  • Angry women 
  • "Men are the head of the household" 
And then WOMEN came opinions on feminism:
  • Feminists are lesbians that hate men
  • Feminism sounds like something from the past
  • Aggressive, demanding, not ladylike
I was very surprised at the reactions about feminism in the 2nd video. I thought they were very negative and hard to even watch.

We then watched a video from Sandy Sandberg who reviewed how in the workforce, men are seen as assertive and women are seen as aggressive. I agreed with her testimony.

After we watched the final video, we got into groups and got a piece of paper. We drew a T-shirt and on the inside, we wrote our positive opinions of feminism and on the outside, we wrote negative stereotypes about feminism. My group consisted of Ava and Olivia.

After we finished making our signs, we got into a debate about who considers themselves a feminist in the class and who doesn't, and why. The debate then continued about men opening the door for women on dates - Caroline revealed that she gets annoyed when men do that, and when men pay the bill on a date. I thought it was a very meaningful and interesting conversation.

We then got in our seats, we received two sticky notes and were told to write the first two things that came to mind at the word "conflict." Most people had negative things to say, such as:

  • Physical fighting 
  • Trouble 
  • Anger
  • Arguments 
We posted those sticky notes on the board and then had a discussion about internal and external conflicts and conflicts with others. In my opinion, conflict is inevitable.

Kisa gave us partners, and my partner was Ludie. We were given scenarios and were told to act them out. We had to test whether our responses were passive, aggressive, or assertive. Some scenarios Ludie and I received were:

  • Your teacher was supposed to give you your rough draft on your paper on Monday, but it is now Wednesday. You need it back so you can make revisions by Friday because you are going to a wedding and wedding party this weekend and will not be back until Sunday night. The final paper is due on Monday. What should you do? 
  • You have just joined the varsity soccer team and are very excited. Your boyfriend, on the other hand, is not. He wants you to quit the team and spend more time with him, and he says if you don't, he will break up with you and start going out with another girl. What should you do?
  • Your school has just started a no-smoking policy on campus. You catch a couple of people, including your close friend, smoking. Your close friend sees that you have caught them. What should you do? 
I noticed that during the second and third scenarios, my and Ludie's conversations got very aggressive. For the first scenario, it was an assertive tone. I found it interesting that as the topics got tougher, so did our body language and speech.

Before lunch, we practiced our Action Plan speeches. We timed each other, and my time came out to be three minutes and thirty three seconds. I was impressed, but I need to work on stuttering and not pausing so much in between sentences.

I had a quick lunch at Johnny Rocket's before heading back to the dorm to rest a bit. I then headed back to the classroom, where we all waited a bit before taking a quick walk to a hall located by the Main Green to take an exciting two-hour workshop: Self Defense!

The workshop was amazing and energizing. Our instructor, Michelle, showed us several "moves" such as the straight punch, hammer (when someone grabs your wrist and you use your free hand to slam into their forearm), side kick, etc. We all screamed "NO!" every time we did a new move, as "no" is the response to an attack. We then got to practice with Michelle by hitting pads that were strapped to her hands. Everyone cheered and I felt really encouraged.

In between the time after the workshop ended and before our evening class started, I worked on my second interview. I was paired with Mackenzie, and she and I have grown to be close. We asked each other questions about how we have developed as leaders and our response to the course. Mackenzie said that her public speaking and confidence in herself has greatly improved due to the course, and I feel the same way in regards to myself.

Having the last dinner with Abiona, Cynthia Z., Maddie, Mackenzie, Rebecca, and Marilyn was bittersweet. A couple of guys from Keeney joined as well. It was a nice meal and a good way to begin the evening.

The evening class was very emotional. At the beginning it was scary, though. We stacked chairs on top of other chairs but that proved to be almost fatal. A chair started to lean forward and almost crashed on top of Mariko's head. I ran forward and steadied the chair before it collapsed on her head. I gave a huge sigh of relief as I picked up the chair and moved it to the other side. I felt like I exhibited good leadership by doing that. The girls clapped and I even heard "hero" - it made me glow on the inside.

Continuing on, the first activity we did was by holding a string of yarn and passing around the ball of yarn. We were to praise someone in the class and then pass the yarn to each person. Alli praised me for being very sweet and welcoming to her. I praised Mariko for growing as a person and stepping out of her shell. It was very empowering; some girls cried when praising others.

The second activity we did was much more emotional, though. We sat in a circle and passed around a pencil (as a "microphone") and stated our experience with Summer@Brown. Not many people got to speak due to a time limit, but the girls that did speak were very emotional and happy about the experience. Some girls that didn't speak cried in happiness and sadness [about leaving]. I love how we consider ourselves "sisters."

We then got together with our RA and our floor and sat in a circle. People were volunteers and tapped people on the head in response to a question. Some of the questions were "tap someone who has inspired you the most"/"tap someone who has challenged you"/"tap someone who made you feel better about yourself." Everyone's eyes were closed, so we didn't know who was tapping us. It was humbling.

I absolutely love Brown University. I definitely have enjoyed my time here. These three weeks have been the best three weeks of my life. I will love and remember:
  • Bazooka-Zooka-Bubble Gum song 
  • "Kaity" moments
  • SIMON...haha 
  • Dorm food 
  • Josie's rapping 
  • Antonio's 
  • Constant walking 
  • Story telling 
  • Maddie's dancing 
  • Circles 
  • The Estro-Den 
  • The Fab Five (Brown Session 1) and the Super Seven (Brown Session 2)
I shall sadly finish packing, and then go to sleep - I have a long day ahead of me.

Bay Area, it's been a while.

Day 16: Action Plan

This morning I woke up and took a shower just like every other morning. I got dressed and met the others at the dining hall for breakfast. We went to class where we finished presentations about our Amazing Women Monologue. It was interesting to see who people picked and why.

After the presentations, we went around and said what we remembered about one of the Amazing Woman. It was also cool to see what people remembered about that person. At lunch, we went to the dining hall and ate.

Immediately after school, I went to my room and worked on my action plan. I finished by the time others got back from the mall. A little while later, I went to dinner with Selena to do our interviews but we didn't get very far because we had guests at the table.

Marylyn and I went into another dorm after dinner to play the piano. All of my stress melted away. Then we went around and hung out with the other girls on the floor before going to bed.
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