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Author Archives: alp15009

A Facilitator’s Secret

A guest post by Ayush Mittal, a Leadership Certificate Series facilitator for Discovery Leadership.

Being a facilitator is a lot like being in on a secret with your friend and then slowly revealing it to a larger group of friends. Now when I say that I mean it in the nicest way possible, and you may be asking yourself if this sort of setup is immoral or if facilitators are lying to their groups by withholding some information at the start. As skeptical as I was of the entire process, I came to understand that this method of activity-based learning can be one of the best ways through which participants gain memorable insights and experiences from workshops.

 

To start off with a description of the workshop I facilitate, Discovery Leadership is directed at those seeking an initial exposure to the world of leadership. Each week’s activities can be seen as a module in itself representing an underlying theme important to the principles of Discovery. One such week’s theme is communication, during which a game called “Around the World” is played. Participants are told they will be going on a trip around the world and are asked to contribute something which they would like to bring. Unbeknownst to them, there are right and wrong answers to items that they may bring, as vetted by the facilitators who are in the know. At the beginning of the activity, almost no one has the correct answer for what to bring, and the whole group is befuddled as to what type of thing is best. Is it food? Shoes? Non Perishables? Etc. Eventually by sheer coincidence someone decides to bring an item starting with the letter W. Suddenly there is a lead and the participants mop up any doubt they had about the no go list. As more participants become in the know they are skipped to give others a chance to figure it out until we have gone around the world as a group. If you haven’t already guessed the objective is to spell WORLD with the items the group brings.

 

As corny as this little game can seem, when one is actually doing it, the results of whether or not they figure it out actually matters. During the debrief, participants are given perspective into the intricacies of communication and what misunderstanding can lead to, both here in the workshop and elsewhere in the larger world. It is with this activity and many more in mind that I see workshop activities as a sort of game, one which allows participants to have an A HA! Moment and a fun memorable experience for all.

 

It’s About Them, Not Me

A guest post by Jackie Ruszczyk, a Leadership Certificate Series facilitator for the Student Leadership Challenge.

Two years ago I was blessed with the experience to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico and live abroad for a month. Oaxaca was a culture shock for me; it was not like the everyday life I was use to. Like a flip of a switch, I went from speaking English to Spanish. The people, however, were so friendly and made me feel welcomed and confident in my Spanish abilities. While I was there, I taught English to two college students, ate unforgettable food, saw beautiful waterfalls, and grew as an individual. My leadership opportunities were abundant during my trip abroad; I lead students on their journey to become fluent in English.

After a month away, I was forced back to my reality; I came back to Storrs, Connecticut where I would soon learn that my leadership opportunities would not end after Mexico. I first became a facilitator for the Discovery leadership program here at the University of Connecticut and then transitioned to become a facilitator for the Challenge this semester. Being a facilitator for the Challenge this semester was a new opportunity, but most importantly a challenge for myself as a facilitator. This is only my second semester as a facilitator for the program, but I have gained a lot of knowledge. Where has the majority of my knowledge come from, you might ask? The answer for me is simple: I have immensely learned from the participants in the program. Therefore, I don’t want this blog post to focus on myself, but rather to focus on them. The participants are actively learning and asking great questions throughout this semester. They have really put themselves out of their own personal comfort zone. I am proud to say that these participants are the future leaders here at the University of Connecticut and I will continue to make sure they have successful journeys, just like the students I taught in Mexico. As we are already half-way done with the program, there is so much room for growth and I can not wait to see where this program takes each and everyone of my participants.

My Impact Delta Experience

A guest post by Sydney Morrison, a Leadership Certificate Series facilitator for Impact Delta.

 

This semester I have the privilege of facilitating the Impact Delta workshop. It was a little challenging at first because I was never a participant in the workshop; however, the topics were not brand new to me. My first experience confronting privilege and social justice was when I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa two summers ago. To say it was an eye-opening experience is a huge understatement.

The evidence of Cape Town’s history was never lost on me. I was able to engage in meaningful discussions about the history of apartheid and the lasting effects it still has today. Also, we were fortunate enough to be able to visit sites such as the District Six Museum and Robben Island that were both impactful and informative. I learned that there is much more to the world than what we are used to or comfortable talking about everyday.

The word ‘ubuntu’ always comes to mind when I think of my time in Cape Town. I learned the word when I first visited several of the townships outside of the city. Ubuntu translates to “I am because you are.” It truly encompasses the importance of community and fits in rather well with the social change model. Having facilitated three of the sessions already I am beginning to see how huge of an aspect the model is to the Impact Delta workshop. It is through working with others towards a common goal, feeling passionate enough about an issue and understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses that change is able to happen.

 

Everyday Leadership

A guest post by Joseph Ferraro, a Leadership Certificate Series facilitator for Discovery Leadership

When everyone hears the word “leader”, people that come to mind are presidents, famous business people, and activists who gave their lives to for a cause that changed the world. It is true that these people are amazing leaders, but what about the rest of us? Are these people the only ones that can be considered good leaders? The answer is no. Most of the change that occurs in our society is made by everyday leaders, regular people who decide to step up, take charge, and make small differences in the lives of the people around them. Even the most seemingly insignificant act can have a resounding impact on the lives of people we don’t even know.
In Discovery, we watched a TED Talk on the very first day titled “Everyday Leadership.” In this video, Drew Dudley discusses the importance of being an everyday leader. Some people believe that if they are not making a huge change, they are not doing anything at all. The video counters this idea by explaining the importance of “lollipop moments”. In the video, Drew explains that when he was in college, there was this girl who was terrified and was convinced before she even began that college was not for her. Then, right before she was about to leave, Drew came out, handed a lollipop to the boy next to her, and told him to give it to the beautiful girl next to him. Everyone laughed, and she said that it was that moment that made her realize that she could do this and that she was home; a few years later, that boy became her husband. This was a moment that Drew admits to not remembering; even though it was an insignificant act to him, it was a life changing moment for her. Drew encourages everyone to display good leadership practices all the time, because you never know what people will respond to and when your “lollipop moment” will happen.
One of the things that I loved about participating in the leadership series is that they encourage and prepare people to be good, aware, and informed individuals. The skills that I learned as a participant made me more aware of how I communicate and behave around others, and has made me a more effective leader. I know that at any given moment of any given day, I could have my lollipop moment. Encouraging everyone to take on the challenge of being an everyday leader can change the world just as much as a president could. By trying to make small changes in the lives of those around us every day, we as a people can help to inspire real, lasting change in our world.