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

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

As an LAS tradition, each year the Sophomore mentors and Freshman mentees travel to Eagle Village in Hersey, Michigan. This trip was meant to unite the 2014 and 2015 cohorts as well as allow the mentor/mentee couples to get to know each other and enjoy a fun weekend. The first activity we were almost immediately thrown into an indoor ropes course. I normally don’t shy away from challenges or heights, but once I ascended the ladder and stepped onto the first platform, I lost all my confidence. Luckily I had my mentor, Emma, right behind me to cheer me on. One of the first elements we encountered was wobbly, wood beam ladder. Emma went first and I followed. One of the facilitators challenged us to do it again but while only holding onto each others hands. Though we were hesitant, we decided to try it. It was honestly one of the scariest things I’ve ever attempted, but also extremely satisfying when we successfully completed it. It is these moments that make the mentor/mentee retreat to valuable. We made a connection on that course by only having each other to rely on.

Me and my mentor bonding at Eagle Village!

Me and my mentor bonding at Eagle Village!

Besides encouraging each other, we also encouraged other mentor/mentee pairs to complete obstacles as well. My roommates mentor, Natalie, was extremely terrified during the whole experience so at one point Emma and I stopped to coach/cheer her on past her obstacle. The amazing thing, watching Riley and Natalie complete the course, was Riley’s strength through the obstacles challenged Natalie to complete them as well. I think Natalie gained a lot by relying on her mentee, even though we assume it should be the other way around. This moment truly shows the power of friendship, leadership, and the impact the LAS program has.

Looking forward to the time when I return to Eagle Village with my own mentee, I hope we share the bonding experience Emma and I did. I hope she feels she can lean on me as much I as can lean on her. I not only want my mentee to feel connected to me, but connected to their cohort as well as mine. College is a wild experience and having 80+ people you know will always have your back is an amazing feelings, a feeling I hope they realize while on this retreat.

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.