Monday, July 24, 2017

The First Day of Learning

Unlike the loud alarm waking me up at 6 in the morning yesterday, I ended up waking up at 7:22 AM since my phone alarm wasn’t working. It was raining a lot, so I brought an umbrella and thick jacket with me as I walked to the dining hall. In a rush, I was able to make it to the dining hall on time just ate a bagel and an apple. This meal was enough to fill and energize me for the rest of the day. 

The Women and Leadership course was in the Art Institute building in room 110. Kelsey, Zunarah, Esmeralda, and I traveled ten minutes before class started. By the time we arrived, the class was just about to begin. The teacher for this course introduced herself, and her name was Mary Grace. She was a very charismatic person, I could tell she's had years of experience based on she spoke and presented herself.
This quote stood out to me the most when I looked around the room. My parents have always used my privilege living in America as a source of guilt, but never talked to me about helping other communities with my privilege.
During the first two or three hours, we had a couple of ice breakers that helped us connect as a huge group. The first activity we performed was one where we tossed a bundled shirt to another person by calling out to them using their name. At first we did it randomly, then we memorized the order and performed it again, and then we did it again one more time except we did it in reverse order. 

After this activity, Grace wanted us to form a line that represented a spectrum from one to ten. She asked us three questions and we had to stand within the spectrum. When we finished each question, she would call out volunteers and ask them why they stood where they decided to stand.

The questions were: how comfortable are you with discussing these issues, how much does your school or community address women and leadership, and where do you land here based on your height.

Based on height, we had to match up with a partner from the opposite side of the spectrum. I ended up being paired with the tallest in the room, a girl named Thea. The first task we had to do was talk to the other person, then we had to sit down on a comfortable spot away from the other groups. Grace directed us to have one person be Partner A and the second one be Partner B, and take turns asking the same three questions she provides us. But the twist was that the partner needed to talk for two whole minutes and the one who asks has to be absolutely silent. The first question was “Who are you?”, then “Who do you pretend to be?”, and lastly, “What do you wish people knew about you?”

When she first told us these questions, I had a difficult time answering the second and third ones. I felt as if it were deeper than the usual conversations I had with other students in the university. Personally, I really liked this ice breaker because it was able to go to a more emotional level that allowed my partner to see a more real and vulnerable side of me. In turn, I was able to listen to them talk about their problems and issues as well, and I found most of the things she talked about relatable. 

Another activity we had was looking at pictures that represented gender inequality. We were able to comment on the pictures placed across the room using post it notes. We were even able to react to other people’s comments, which was a fun add on to the learning experience. As we discussed the pictures we looked at, I noticed that many my classmates had similar opinions as I did about these concerns. More than two people addressed several problems that came with gender inequality: hypersexualism, sexual abuse, white feminism, and even though most of us came from very diverse backgrounds, we were all still able to find similarities in one another.
This picture shocked me the most, I was surprised by the way capitalism also promotes
gender inequality in several conservative areas.
Lunch break came quicker than I expected, and I spent time with my course group during the first half of my lunch, and the rest with my cohort. Our teacher assigned us to create a name and a catchphrase with the teams she formed with my classmates. The three people in my team, Tori, Spencer, and I, decided we name ourselves Dancing Dolphins and our catchphrase was a little wave at the end. We all liked it because we had a passion for both dancing and dolphins.
The Dancing Dolphins! (Tori, Spencer, and myself)
When class ended, we went the Director Welcome at Salomon 001. They gave us an hour long presentation that gave us information on the Leadership TAs, how leadership affects us, and why it’s important to everyone in a community.
The RA introductions.
Feiyang and I are staying in the halls to make
sure we stay awake as we do our work.
I spent some time with Defne and Daisy as well, we traveled to the Brown bookstore and CVS to get some supplies for our classes and dorm rooms. We met a little six year old boy that was very cheery, extroverted and most of all, adorable. Daisy and I talked to him for a bit while we waited for Defne to buy her shampoo. The child wanted to get a flower silly straw, but it seemed like his parents wouldn’t let him because of how expensive it was. I was eager to buy him one, but by the time we were finished looking for Defne at CVS, he was gone.

As we headed back to the dorms, I met up with my cohort and Kendra in Esmeralda’s dorm. We wrote a couple of letters for a very special person (or maybe even two special people) and took turns passing the paper around for each of us to sign. 

I’m writing this now as I sit with Daisy, who I’ll start calling Feiyang, which is her Chinese name. We’ve been working together for a couple of hours now, even though we’re not taking the same course. To be honest, I expected my course to be a lecture of some sort, but this method of teaching- engaging individuals to discuss the societal issues based on their experiences and using what they truly feel- is a much better way to improve critical thinking skills within students. I had a blast learning about Women and Leadership today, and the way it’s being taught is unlike anything I’ve taken before. 

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