Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to Be a Leader

Day 2 of our Women and Leadership course has taught me so much about being my own effective leader in just one day. There were many ideas and values about what makes someone a leader done through various activities, discussions and workshops. 

I started my productive day by energizing myself with some food at the Ratty since I was exhausted from finishing the readings and blogs last night. Oddly, I remembered setting my alarm, but in the morning when my roommate Sara's alarm went off, I noticed mine was actually never turned on. She is a life saver. We definitely have each other's backs when one of us have alarm clock issues.

The Women and Leadership class met up inside Salomon and we did a little fun activity in which we went around in a circle saying our names, preferred pronouns, highs, lows and an affirmation. It was funny how a lot of us mentioned how our lows were sleeping quite late and not sleeping much or being really jet lagged. I also appreciated the fact that we acknowledged thanks for someone in the class.
Feeling welcome at Brown
We settled in the class auditorium with all of the Leadership Institute to begin our session on Listening Skills which was instructed by Kisa. Initially, I thought it would be all about staying quiet and hearing what someone has to say, but there is a lot more to that. The reasons for effective listening is so that we can understand thoughts, collaborate, and feel a sense of inclusion. The three keys to being an effective leader is nonverbal, asking open-ended questions and summarizing a reflective statement. Basically, to be a good listener, one has to use the appropriate body languages, extend the conversation with follow-ups, and prove attentiveness by summing up what was just said by the speaker. We got a lot of practice with the people around us and it was a lot of fun implementing these skills into the topics we were discussing. 

After this really helpful meeting with the Leadership Institute, we went to our regular lunch break. I went to the V-Dub Dining Hall for the first time with Camila, Sara and Lauren. Most of the food is pretty much similar to that of the Ratty's, but I'd say the building looks way different and smaller. There is also a waffle maker, which inspired a lot of creative food ideas with people.

Next up in the day, our Women and Leadership class met in our classroom to brainstorm ideas for our Action Plans. A lot of ideas came up from many girls in the class, ranging from women's rights to police brutality. One issue I'm thinking of focusing on is street and community violence, which is a recurring problem I'm really concerned about and has made a lot of impact back home. 

Walking to the Networking Session
Then, we went to the Underground to have a Networking Session. The objective was to mingle with different women that work in Brown. We had rotations, so I got the chance to talk to a lot of women from various backgrounds and different interests. I met people like Yolanda Castillo-Appolonio, Yolanda Rome, Besenia Rodriguez, Catherine J. Axe, Liza Cariaga-Lo, Gail and Hemly. I asked them a lot of questions about what they do, what motivates them and why they like Brown a lot. A lot of them were deans and were passionate about different areas such as disability services, sociology, freshman studies and diversity. They also asked me questions about my interests and why I decided to take a course at Brown. I told them all about the Ivy League Connection and my passion to become more empowered and inspire empowerment upon others. The Listening Skills we learned earlier were actually very helpful with having interesting conversations without long and awkward pauses or tensions.
SOUTH: "We are the World" (Team player, supportive)
NORTH: (Assertive, decisive, action-oriented)
WEST: (practical, dependable, logical, data)
EAST: "Visionary" (Big picture,
idea-oriented, experimental)
At 3:30 PM, we had our workshop about North, South, East and West Leadership Styles. We began by Christine and Skenda saying statements like "A leader is a hammer" or "A leader is a nail" and we had to go in one side of the room that we agreed with. Some of the decisions were very difficult because I could see all of the sides to them, but having the chance to discuss with the class our opinions and perspectives created a space of free and open thoughts. The activity we did after had four posters spread throughout the room titled North, South, East and West. Each one explained different leadership styles. North was based on assertive and decisive leadership, South was based on feeling-based team effort, East was based on ideas and exploration, and West was based on practical and logical thinking. Personally, I identify the most with the South style of leadership because I like working as a team and working for what is right or fair. We had many discussions and even had a situational leadership activity in which we were given a situation and moved to the side of the room with which leadership style we thought would be the most efficient for that situation. I felt that I was trying to push myself a lot to participating and speaking more, which is something I have had a lot of difficulty and a sense of hesitation with. 

Komal and I taking pictures of each other taking pictures for the blog
The workshop ended with us doing a skit with our leadership style group portraying how we would approach a meeting for the next Women and Leadership class. It was a lot of fun coming up with silly and over exaggerated ideas. I thought it was funny how while we were working together and brainstorming, Komal and I started speaking at the same time and then we said "No, you go first" which is a really South style leadership thing to do. Everyone had really humorous and cute skits. I really admire how everyone has so many ideas and passion for what they stand up for. All the work I did to get into this program is really worth it. Now, it's time to finish reading reflections and get started with our major assignments!

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