Saturday, November 12, 2011

Symposium Day 3: Happy Birthday To Me!

The weather is now exactly like San Francisco's in that it is sunny but borderline freezing. The hot shower woke me up, helping me to ready myself for the action-packed day ahead of me. After breakfast, we headed onto the bus, where we went straight up to Brown. We first had a panel of Symposium alums. The four alums, including our very own Irene, presented their actions plans and their success. They went into detail about their hardships and what they learned that could help us with our projects.

We then broke off into small groups based on the topic of our Action Plans. My group had mostly environmental/animal topics. My Action Plan is to found a club at my school in which awareness will be raised about animal rights and the benefits of adopting over purchasing from shops. The other students in my group helped me come up with ideas to further better my club and fundraise. Those two hours were the most beneficial because they helped me see how others approached their Action Plans, helping me see my plan from a different view. It helped me think outside of the box and introduced me to ideas I hadn't even thought of, let alone considered.

After that, we had lunch-delicious pizza and soda. Then we went outside to take our group photo, and of course the sun chose to be in our faces. When we checked into the Symposium on Day 1, we signed up for two workshops. I chose facilitating a meeting because my Plan is to be president of the club, which involves heavy facilitating. I also chose Effective Communication with Administration because it is important, not only in a school setting, but in a business setting as well.

We were released after the two activities, leaving just over four hours of free time to roam the city. Since it was my birthday, everyone let me choose where to go, which was hard for me since I am not the type of person to force an activity on someone. We ended up getting quesadillas  suitable for the chilly weather, and going to the local CVS to get playing cards. We walked all the way back to the hotel and hung out. We explored the hotel, played a million games, and truly had fun.

I am so tired but I don't want to fall asleep and let this day end. It hurts me to think that tomorrow, this will all be over, but I know I will keep strong connections to the 21 girls that changed my life.

Symposium Saturday

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:

  • Violence
  • Hunger 
  • Weather
  • Homework
Results of stress:
  •  Shaking 
  • Easily distracted
  • Headaches 
  • Too much sleep
  • Weak 
  • 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.


Being an Ivy League Connection scholar, I've learned many lessons about presenting myself professionally, such as proper posture, how to dress for success, time management, and in my opinion the most important lesson: discipline.

When I left Brown over the summer, my friends and I found a bit of solace in knowing that we would most likely be reunited in November and yet we still bawled our eyes out at the thought of separating. Our group is roughly about 12 people, and trying to stay together while navigating the narrow streets of Providence, Rhode Island proved to be quite the problem. Thank goodness for the symposium; the workshops and lectures taught us how to effectively communicate and run meetings, which proved to be very useful in deciding where we were all going to go for our free time.

I also discussed my Action Plan, which is to organize a school-wide event similar to "Challenge Day," a social diversity workshop made famous by MTV's "If You Really Knew Me." My school's "Challenge Day" would be based on racial diversity and tension, which is a huge problem in my school. I'm looking into getting a professional speaker to come to my school and emcee the event, and setting up a committee of students to help me organize it. As long as I stay focused and professional, I expect great things from my Action Plan.

After the Symposium, students had a lot of time to explore the city and that's when the true reunion occurred. A night out in the city with my fellow Women & Leadership Ladies was well-deserved, as we all worked extremely hard to get to where we are today. A friend of ours even drove out to hang out with us even though she wasn't attending the symposium. We ate together, reminisced, laughed like crazy, and acted as if we had never separated. It feels great knowing I have yet another reason to travel around the nation, and that reason is to see these "sisters" of mine again.

Everyone wanted to hang out in one hotel room and watch the movie "Mean Girls" as a way to end the day, but knowing that I had made the ILC a promise that I'd blog daily, I had to put my feelings aside and go to my room with Rebecca to use our laptops to blog. Being in the ILC enforced discipline in me that I hadn't had before the program. I believe that if it weren't for the strict rules of blogging, I'd take the easy route of hanging out with friends. I just hope this disciplined attitude will follow me into my college years.
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