Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Smooth Sailing

Leadership: a rational and ethical process of people attempting to accomplish positive change.

I have to say, this definition really hits the spot. Before, when I used to hear the word "leadership", I would imagine a single person bossing everyone else around and being the one in charge. Now, however, after only two days in our course, I picture the leader as someone who utilizes his or her strengths, whatever they may be, to become positive agents of change, regardless of what their position is on a project. It does not only have to be the lead student or the most outgoing person in the group, it can be the quiet, detail-oriented girl that never speaks up. The class has me rethink notions and attempt to change the way I think when it comes to leadership.

The morning went by as usual: wake up, have breakfast and so on. Once we were in class, we spent the morning talking about the reasons why women and young girls have low self-esteem.

Our Professor, Kisa! 

One of the exercises we did in class. 

We had an exercise where, with three pipe cleaners, we were to mold something that represents our passions. The yellow pone represents a test tube, showing my love of the sciences. The red one is a gavel representing justice, but more specifically, educational justice. The green one is actually a word and it says "Olá", which means "Hello" in Portuguese. It represents my love of learning new languages. I loved how creative the exercise was. 

To me, the most important root causes were popular culture, society, and peer-to-peer oppression. The media portrays women in a certain light: they must be thin, quiet, nurturing and disciplined by the male. Women are often seen as inferior to men and incapable of being able to do many jobs. With this in mind, the woman internalizes this way of thinking and maintains this throughout her life unless she learns to think another way. When I mention society, it tends to differ from culture to culture. In a Muslim country, women are very, very restricted in their freedom and practically have no rights. Because of the religious government implemented, women are viewed as property and cannot have any say in anything at all. I often think that women tend to put each other down; this is peer-to-peer oppression. If another woman does not fit the description of a woman, then she will be treated as inferior by other members of the same gender. Typically, the bully will have faced some sort of self-esteem problem earlier and therefore takes out her frustration on someone else. 

The second half of the class was about listening skills. We learned effective strategies on how to have everyone in a group voice their opinions and how to truly listen to them. We learned several ways on how we can communicate with someone by asking them open-ended questions that makes them look at things in a different matter than they haven't before. Listening is an important aspect of being a leader, so I looked forward to this. 

One of the most common and igniting debates we have had in our class is the decision whether to "step up" or "step back". By this, I mean that those students who tend to talk a lot in class will "step back" and let the quieter, less talkative people "step up" and voice their opinions. The girl I previously mentioned was the one who mostly bickered about this. Once someone brings the subject up, the whole class will start to argue about this issue. Finally, we agreed (or rather, the instructor told us) to try to follow that rule. It's hard for a lot of people, but it allows more students to contribute their ideas and thoughts. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon studying and finishing my homework. I managed to finish by 6:30 which I felt very proud of. 

There was an interesting reading that our professor gave us about a baby named "X". It's a lot to summarize, but to keep it short, the baby grew up not as a boy or a girl, but as an "X". Many people got frustrated at this because the kid would equally like and do girl things as much as boy things. It made me realize that even when we're little, society defines, separates and makes us based on our gender. Women are supposed to be quiet, play with dolls and not enjoy sports. Boys are supposed to earn the bigger paycheck, play sports and be outspoken. Anyway, the article was very fun to read and I look forward to discussing it in class. 
Our textbook! 

I spent my homework-free evening with Lucero, exploring Thayer Street. It started to rain though (thank God for the umbrellas!) but it wasn't much of a bother. It's interesting how people juxtapose wearing summer clothing such as shorts and tank tops while using an umbrella. Well, I suppose it's not California, so I'll just have to deal with it. 

I will probably go watch a movie with Lucero right now.

1 comment:

  1. Lupe,

    Last things first: You're thanking God for those umbrellas? Maybe God gave me the idea to go out and buy umbrellas in the middle of July but don't I get a little credit for it, too? [Speaking of credit, I didn't see her name on the credit card bill. :-) ]

    Loved the photos.

    Don't take this the wrong way, Lupe, but I think your imagination got the best of you with those pipe cleaners. I immediately got the gavel but with the other two it was like when you go into an art gallery and the artist tries to tell you that you're not really looking at spilled paint on a canvas. He tells you what you're really looking at is a prime example of man's struggle with his inner demons as he fights the temptation to destroy his televisions and the gods that control them. I mean, if the viewer can't make it out at first glance, then maybe the artist is just making it up on the fly. :-)

    Now knowing what the green and the yellow pipe cleaners signify, though, I say: "they're works of art" Brava to you, Lupe."

    Your little exercise about stepping up or stepping back is a great one and the ones that are bitching the loudest over it are the ones that need to adhere to it the most. In their minds, they've already solved the problems of the world and they become angry when the rest of the world doesn't accept their prominence and accept them as the true leaders that they are. In reality, a true leader would step back and allow the others to speak. [Do you like the way that I've completely analyzed them based solely on what you've written?]

    In my own union we have a rule that comes down from our national headquarters that apprentices have neither voice nor vote. Not allowing them the vote has some valid reasons behind it but the idea that they shouldn't be allowed to voice their opinions is backwards and self defeating.

    When I was the President of my union my policy was to let EVERY member speak his piece. What I told the journeymen members was that why should we assume that because that apprentice has only been in the trade for a brief period, that she doesn't have the solutions to our problems. And even if she doesn't, she's going to learn by asking questions and bringing up ideas for discussion.

    Perhaps those members of your class that want to dominate the conversations are less confident in themselves than the image they want to you to see. Something akin to a false bravado. Perhaps in their own minds, the only way they can keep proving to themselves that they're the honcho is to quash any other ideas and dominate/control the conversation and the direction it takes.

    I'd like to think that in all of the positions of power and authority I've had, that I always led by example and not by force of will.