Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Life Changing Experience

After several months of preparation, orientations, and dinners it was time to depart eastwards. It was really funny because the moment before I got into the car to leave to El Cerrito High, it really sunk in that I was leaving, that  I was accepted into this program, and that I was going to experience some of the best moments of my life. I left my home, thinking about how I was going to come back to it with new perspectives, new friendships, and plenty of memories to cherish.

The first few days of the trip, I was so nervous and home sick. I realized how much loved ones meant to me, and how the daily routine actually kept me stable, and able to function. The shock of being separated, and on my own really got to me after those few days. For a while, I just wanted the program to end, so I could go home. But now I miss it more than ever. I cried a lot, about my family, about how nervous I was for what was to come, and for the frustrations. I missed my routine, and I always took it for granted.

When my emotions settled down, and I started to become really close to my cohort and chaperone, I relaxed and just had fun.

When we got to Brown and unpacked all of our stuff into our dorms I realized that I was at the beginning of my adventure at Brown. I took note of all the small details of my dorm, and hall. I was so relieved that we were all staying in the same hall since the idea of sleeping alone in an entire hall spooked me a little. When I woke up my back, hurt and It was really hard for me to fall asleep the night prior. We set out to get our fans, and go to orientation.

What really assured and grounded me that these two weeks were going to be a blast, and it was the first day of class. I learned so much about myself on the first day. We had very deep discussions and I made so many new friends. I stepped out of my comfort zone so many times which I am so proud of myself for.

I learned the value of an open minded discussion, and that sharing my opinion was valued by the rest of the class. For so long, I always neglected the idea to participate a lot or share my opinions because I was so afraid of the judgement carried along with it. I left class the first day, feeling more empowered than I had in such a long time. The atmosphere was just so supportive and loving.

So many people are given the impression that one is born with leadership skills, and that there are natural born leaders. This is completely invalid, not only is it degrading to others who have never been labeled as a leader, but it discourages them from even trying to be one. Even though this idea is quite simple, it's really important to remember when working within a group setting. There isn’t just one leader of the entire group, instead it’s more like a combined team effort. One person may be giving the rest of the group guidelines, but it’s the other members in the group who also give ideas, and make sure things are moving along. Just like how there isn’t one set way to paint a picture, or sing a song, there isn’t one way to be a leader. There are so many different styles that you can use. And these styles don’t have to be separated, they can  intermix, and blend together in any way. Like how we learned about the "north" style, or the "west" style. It doesn’t have to be just "north" or "west" it can be "north-west".

I think that workshop was so helpful for me in being able to categorize the traits I possess when leading a group. It wasn’t me slapping a label onto myself, but more so understanding what traits seem to usually compliment each other.

I also learned how it is so important that every single voice in the group is heard. Every single individual in a group has great ideas, they just need to be encouraged to speak, and given the opportunity to. I also think that it is so important to respect everyone within you group, making sure everyone is heard, and respecting their ideas. You can’t have a successful group without giving everyone the proper recognition and respect. It should never just be a select few doing all the work  in a group. It should be everyone collaborating and working together towards a common goal.

By the time a week had passed, I was smiling so much and making so many friends. As each day passed i learned something new about myself and the world. It was so refreshing to be wake up and gain a new perspective. My mindset also gradually became more optimistic and positive. I found myself feeling happier and more confident. Even though I was learning so much, the two weeks were flying by fast. I tried my best to live in the moment, and take advantage of my time to step outside my comfort zone.

Sadly and soon enough, it was the last day of class. I took a look at all the wonderful faces that surrounded me, and had an overwhelming feeling of love and appreciation. I think that we all established such strong connections and bonds with each other that will last for the rest of our lives. I don’t think that I’ll ever forget my time at Brown this summer. I will always try my best to empower women around me, and share the knowledge I learned this summer with them. I wish that I could send my entire district to this course, because I know it would open so many eyes.

On the plane ride back home, I was holding back tears the entire time because I was going to miss everyone so much, but I was also excited to share all the things I learned with my loved ones and friends back home. It was bittersweet, and heart warming to reflect on my entire trip that plane ride.

School has already started, and because of the open atmosphere I was exposed to at Brown. I participate in class, and share all of my opinions and thoughts. I don’t think twice about the judgement that might result from this. Instead I embrace it, and provoke thought in others to try to shift their perspective. I look at everything as an opportunity to learn and gain new perspectives. I also have very successful group assignments because of what I’ve learned. I provide a positive and safe environment for all the members to speak, and encourage them to be innovative and share their thoughts.

I will continue to share my experience with others, and give them new insights they once never knew even existed.

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