LEAD TEAM: Grad Ball

Lead teams are interesting for me, because I am not used to taking a back seat in regards to event planning. Though I really don’t think I could designate time to coordinate a LEAD team, I really hate not having a very explicit and important role. I feel like I am following the motions for a lot of the tasks. However, they are fun because they allow for all the cohorts to get together; we don’t get much of this as we move up in the program.

So my LEAD team was in charge of Grad Ball, which hasn’t happened yet and is still in progress. I volunteered to be responsible for the graduate gift so I felt important, but we had to scrap that task. In our recent meeting, we designated committees to break up the work, which I think was a good tactical move. Hopefully, this will allow for each of us to get more involved. We have people for clean up, decorations, invitation, and others. I know the LAS grads really look forward to this event so I hope we can plan a great event for them. It is really the only  Really they just look forward to the gourmet cupcakes we provide 🙂

Pre-Service Reflection

I have only been to Detroit twice and I wasn’t allowed to leave the GM Building. I haven’t experienced a huge urban city, let alone the impoverished communities of Detroit. I’ve heard stories about the downfall of Detroit and the crime that came with it. There are the white flight cities of Detroit and then the enormous homeless and impoverished populations. Many say that Detroit is one of the most racially segregated cities in state. I heard the most about Detroit in my society course in high school. Shockingly, living in Michigan my whole life, I really didn’t know as much as I should have.

The Leadership Institutes mission is to develop the next generation of ethical leaders. This trip is so special because it is molding leaders other than CMU students. We, as a community, are expanding our reach state wide. As the children we serve ascend to leadership, they will expose others, who will teach others, and in the end we have a world full of ethical leaders. Being a servant leader entails building a community and being a visionary. The LI is recognizing Detroit’s need for help and putting worth actions to serve those who need us most.

I am really looking forward to this trip. I think this cohort has a unique dynamic and fun personality that I believe will give Jalen Rose an excited weekend. I also am excited to serve the Detroit area because I personally believe all of their struggles are things we as their neighbors have the potential to change.

Detroit

Multicultural Advancement Scholarship/Lead Team Experience

 

Pictured is a group of Indian students I met. This was the first time they had ever been to the U.S and their first selfie EVER

Pictured is a group of Indian students I met. This was the first time they had ever been to the U.S and their first selfie EVER

While I am a member of the Leadership Advancement Scholarship, I am also a member of the Multicultural Advancement Scholarship. As part of this scholarship, it is my job to be inclusive, aware, and an accepting contributor on Centrals campus. As part of my protocol for the scholarship, I am required to attend two cultural events for each of the cultural history months, including, African American, East Asian, Native American, etc.

It ended up being very convenient that I was placed on the Diversity Lead Team, whose requirements were to attend one cultural event each month. In regards to the Lead Team, I didn’t really have much of an experience, because I was already attending. I would like to suggest that the Diversity Team add a requirement to bring someone else to the events. As a group who is supposed to be culturally aware, it should be our responsibly to share our experiences and promote further understanding.

I actually learned a lot from attending the cultural events. One of the most memorable events I attended was Herman Boone’s, the coach portrayed in Remember the Titans, speech on race and sports. Besides Remember the Titans being one of my all time favorite movies, Coach Boone’s story is amazing. He seems so much bigger than life seeing him from a screen, but being present for his speech made him seem so real. He experienced nothing special for the times, but his ability to bridge the racial tension in an entire community makes him extraordinary. Another event that I enjoyed was the Keynote speaker about the Divine Nine, which if you didn’t know, is the nine black fraternities and sororities on Central’s campus. Before attending this speaker, I wasn’t a huge fan of the idea of “black frats” just because it seemed like it was furthering the racial gap on campus. But after hearing from the speaker, who shared the history and is actually a member of one of the Divine Nine, I was exposed to a new perspective. The purpose of this organization is upholding a tradition that back in the day was nearly impossible to possess. It is amazing how committed and loyal these members are to the organization. The only thing I left questioning was the University’s lack of appreciation. None of the organizations have houses on campus; they simply have a rock, a rock which was recently vandalized. For a community of people on this campus who contribute so much  to the culture and diversity, it seems like someone should take more notice in appreciating and recognizing their importance.

Being exposed to the MAC scholarship has opened my eyes to all the ways Central could improve in regards to cultural and inclusion. First, I am very concerned with the segregation that has been implemented into our campus.  Majority of the foreign exchange students are placed in Herrig. I would assume that they have decided to attend college in the U.S in an effort to experience that culture. We are doing them a disservice by not allowing them to experience interactions with American students. Just walking around campus, I always see international students together. The same thing can be said for LAS and MAC. As the “leaders” and “cultural champions” of campus, I believe it would be more beneficial to disperse us throughout campus so we can share our wisdom and inspire others to be better. Though I understand the reasoning behind housing these programs together, I think Central is missing an opportunity. I say these things despite my personal experience as well. I have personally loved living with LAS as they have become my best friends. However, I feel like I was given a job to perform on this campus, which I think could be expanded by distributing me and other LAS members through our campus.

It think the cultural opportunities we offer at CMU is extremely under appreciated. They are great learning experiences and I wish more people would take the time to try it out. I know I have personally grown as an individual from going and exposing myself to the unknown, as well as expanding the knowledge I already have. I highly suggest that ALL organizations encourage a dialogue about these free event the University offers.

MAC Scholarship @ CMU

Spark Leadership Reflection

As I’m sure many of my fellow leadership kids would agree, leadership camps have gotten a little boring. Many of us anticipated hating Spark because we didn’t think there was much more we could learn or experience. I was pleasantly surprised by my time at Spark Leadership Series.

I really enjoyed getting to know the members of Team Involvement! I think that’s what made Spark a better experience for me personally, because I actually felt a connection with the people I participated with. During Leadership Safari, we all just went through the motions and never established relationships, and to this day me and my group members don’t talk when we see each other. Since Spark I’ve seen and talked to multiple team members and feel like I even made a new friend.

I also feel like I learned something related to leadership that I can apply to my future experiences. Doing the leadership styles assessment was very enlightening to me because I received a result I wasn’t expecting. My primary leadership style was Systematic; that result wasn’t so much surprising as was the style I didn’t get. I really believed I was going to get direct leadership. I’m a very straight forward person, some may use the word direct, when it comes to projects, event planning, etc. But in reflection, I think that mentality comes from my need for organization. I was also surprised that before i received direct, I got spirited leadership! I am the most mellow, unenthusiastic person I know, so to be so wrong on my idea of leadership was definitely surprising. It gave me a new perspective on leadership though; I clearly have the power to be spirited when I need to be.

I would definitely suggest this program to others, because I really enjoyed my time. Though it did overlap with a class and interrupted my dinner time, I looked forward to going each week and think it’s a great concept. And I even played a few games I never had before!!

Structure built by random household objects to support a 16oz can of Pepsi: Mission accomplished

Structure built by random household objects to support a 16oz can of Pepsi: Mission accomplished

Connections Conference 2015

Connections Conference is a 2 day leadership seminar hosted at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City by the Leadership Institute at Central Michigan University. Though it is an LAS protocol requirement, it is also open to all members of the university. This year we bussed 200 Central Michigan students and staff to participate in leadership development.Because this conference was meant as professional development, we were required to dress up. This was particularly fun for me because I love dressing up and you don’t have many excuses to in college! I would also like to thank the catering staff for the amazing food. My friends told me it was going to warm ham sandwiches all weekend and I was delightfully pleased with the 3 course meals.

Right off the bat, we were all randomly assigned into Institutes that would act as home base for the conference. This group and leaders focused on the asset/goals plan for us as leaders in our organizations on campus. They showed us how to set goals for our RSO at CMU, how to determine the assets we have to take advantage of, and the factors that have hindered our progress. This process is meant to create goals that we could take back to campus and implement and teach others.

The first educational session I attended was “It’s Not Me, It’s You” in which the topic was how to deal with difficult individuals in leadership, jobs, and life. I personally found this beneficial because there is never a time where you get to choose who you work with. Often times you have to bite your tongue and just survive. One of the things I took from this session was the process of addressing a conflict. My presenter stated, If something bothers you for more that 24 hours, you have 24 hours to then address it. If this time elapses, you must let it go. I never thought of frustration or annoyance as having an expiration date, but it completely makes sense. As leaders, we have to be able to continue to have meaningful and beneficial relationships with the people we work with so I believe this is a great philosophy for everyone to adopt.

One of the other sessions I enjoyed was presented by the one and only, Erin Gaken. First of all, her baby bump was absolutely adorable! Her presentation was “Men can Cry, Women Don’t Have To”, which was focused on gender stereotypes in the workplace. Typically, women are stereotyped as being emotionally driven, where as men are expected to be manly and less emotional. While Erin spoke, I realized how often I’ve accepted these stereotypes. But even so, I am an emotional woman and I enjoy men who can express emotion. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like it would relate to leadership, but on a deeper level, leaders must be accepting, understanding, and thoughtful. If we as leaders refuse to accept each individual for their character and personality, whether it be emotional or unemotional, weak or strong, feminine or manly, we cannot be effective. I found this to be most benefitial to me because I realized a stereotype I’ve been accepting and hope to adjust my mindset to accommodate all individuals as I am a leader of today.

To be honest, I didn’t anticipate making many strong bonds with anyone other than my cohort at Connections. But to my surprise, I met a man named Jack. To this day we talk on a daily basis and get lunch together or go to SAC together often. I really value Jack as a person, and I think he makes me a better person. Out of the whole weekend he is definitely my favorite part (yes, even over the water park), because I believe we will be long time friends. I think we were meant to meet each other to challenge each other, which is what the LI and the Connections Conference intended for us to experience.

Connections Conference 2015

Connections Conference 2015

Leadership Safari

2015 Leadership Safari

Leadership Safari is every CMU freshman’s dream. You get to move in early, roam around campus, and basically be independent from parents and responsibility for a whole week. I personally didn’t have the great safari experience I was told would have, though I did appreciate some of the events and also made a good friend.

Move in day went great! I got all settled in, met my roommates, met the neighbors, and was ready for safari to begin. Each year, Leadership Safari gets bigger and bigger each year and this year they had record breaking numbers. 2500 college freshman were coming to CMU for safari. I don’t think I had seen 2500 people at one time until I got here. I give credit to the facilitators of this event because I was unaware that most of the animals they used even existed. Some of them were even hard to pronounce! Throughout the week, they kept us busy with dance music; if I hadn’t already known all the words to “The Wobble” I definitely would have after the week of hearing it 6 times a day. *Please expand the playlist for next years participates for the sake of their sanity*

I was on team Polar Bear, and it was in this team I met my now good friend, Jessika. We immediately clicked because of our laid back, sarcastic humor. I give her most of the credit in helping me survive the long week that was Leadership Safari. My team really didn’t bond like I saw many of the other groups, so having Jessika to lean on was a God sent. My safari leader wasn’t the typical rainbows and sunshine you picture being at safari. Most of the week we sat around during down time because no one really wanted to play the pointless games he was required to suggest. Though we didn’t click on a real personal level, we were able to share some laughs. This particularly stood out to me because of how different we all were. But I guess that is the point, accepting others as they are and adapting to the awkward moments we are involuntarily thrown into. Leadership!! Besides Jessika I haven’t spoken to any of my group member since safari. I will wave or smile if I pass them on my way to class but that’s about it. My safari leader even avoids eye contact with me when I run into him.

Though everyone tells you how fun Leadership Safari is, they don’t tell you how exhausted you are going to be during and afterwards. Early mornings and late nights for five days definitely gives you a taste of the college life. They have you busy from sun up to sun down listening to speakers, doing team building activities, etc. I was slightly disappointed in the facilitation of the events, however. We were often times sitting around for hours on end with nothing to do after an event was let out early or if we were waiting for lunch. It was also extremely cold during safari and they didn’t have the proper accommodations for everyone, so we were forced to sit outside in the wind, rain, and cold. And because we are new college students they wanted to “keep us busy” for as long as possible to limit the amount of time we had to get into trouble. Because of this, I personally, and multiple other people, felt babied, not treated like adults, but as risky teenagers.

My favorite part of Leadership Safari was the acapella group on night one and the slam poets on the last night. This generation is that of acapella given the break out of the Pitch Perfect movies. It was super relevant and extremely entertaining. I was very impressed with all the entertainments acts provided at 2015 safari and would definitely suggest some returns. The Asia Project, one of the slam poetry acts, actually made me cry. Because I’m horrible at poetry I have a great respect for their craft first of all, and utter disbelief in the power of their craft and their words. As a future leader, I hope I have the power to affect people the way their 45 minute act affected me. Along, with these performers, there were also many speakers that had great messages. One man gave me a blow pop and told me to give it to the person I value most and appreciate without telling them why. Though my sucker didn’t make it to my person, it prompted me to tell her what she meant to me and that’s actually one of the nicest things you can do for someone, I learned.

A few major issues I had with Leadership Safari was the topic of a lot of the speakers. Many talked about sex and relationships and I don’t see the relevance to leadership. It was very frustrating to me because I couldn’t relate and it often became a joke to many of the participants, obviously, because what 18 year old doesn’t laugh at sex jokes, distracting from the message. Another problem I had was with safari was the volunteering activity. I take great pride in volunteering and was extremely offended by the effort put into this part of the week. We packed meals for the less fortunate in assembly line style. We spent more time learning how to package the food than we did actually doing it. I was in there for probably 5 minutes before I was corralled out. Many participates didn’t even get the opportunity. I would have preferred to spend my whole day doing the volunteering instead of the pointless games I was forced to play afterward. I think the safari coordinators need to revaluate what their message for the week is and how they plan to format leadership safari to fulfill that message.