Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's Important, What's Valued

I will expand more on Lucero’s post about “Baby X” and the questions it raised about gender neutrality. Sometimes it would be much more efficient to split people up by gender and assume that everyone fits into two boxes. However, we shouldn't forget that there are people who do not fit into either box of male or female, or do not fit into the one they were put into at birth. We need to consider their health and feelings, too.

Today I thought about the traditional roles differing depending on ethnicity or background. Other students in our class come from a very different background from us ILC kids. One person may think that women really are oppressed because she’s seen it happen and she’s seen the pressures with her own eyes. Another person may believe that these pressures are insignificant or so much improved that they don’t need to be focused on. I’m leaning towards the first viewpoint. At times, though, I understand what is meant by the perception and not reality of stereotypes.
Quotes on Leadership
In my opinion, in matters of religion and tradition, it may be easier to see the categories and boundaries set out before men and women. Once they are not in the picture, it can seem that the obstacles may be imagined and not actually there.

In order to discuss this at all, everyone should strive for an open mind. With some topics, we can only work with people to try to get them to open up a little and try to understand, not necessarily to agree. We did a good job with this today in class. Kisa gave us three pipe cleaners and asked us to form an interconnected sculpture representing our passions. This is mine: the male and female interlocked signs represent LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) rights and issues which I care about a lot. I think LGBTQ issues are one of the major issues of this decade and of my generation. I show my passion by leading my school's Gay-Straight Alliance and combating homophobia in different ways around the El Cerrito HS campus. The "sk8" symbol represents my passion for figure skating. I normally train 6 days a week and occasionally volunteer to help in the Skating School to teach small children and special needs children how to skate.
Pipe Cleaner Sculpture
We worked more on identifying our own passions, strengths, and weaknesses. Everybody felt too modest to really go all out on identifying our positive traits. We relied on others to tell us our positive traits and reinforce our self-esteem. Self-esteem is very important to being a leader, because if you are not confident or happy with yourself, your group will see through you or not have faith in you.
We got into small groups and brainstormed how to overcome the challenges and attacks on a woman's self esteem. I thought it was very helpful not to only address Do's and Don't but Why's and How's.

Robin, the person in charge of the Leadership Institute here, also emphasized the value of asking open-ended questions for active listening skills. Eye contact and hand gestures always help. We also learned how to redirect the energy of someone who is monopolizing a meeting or discussion by using subtle, inclusive language.
Ways to Deal With Speakers Who Monopolize Time
Our professor, Kisa, and I
After class, I did most of my homework and then went to see the Brown Orchestra play with my friend Lina. It wasn't what I had expected at all. I expected a large orchestra to come out and play relatively advanced music. Instead, a small chamber orchestra came out in rather casual clothing and played one of Bach's most complicated counterpoint works. A real Brown professor gave a lecture on the relationship of music to engineering, chemistry, physics, calculus, literature, and the arts. I enjoyed the lecture, but I wasn't expecting it at all.

Tomorrow will be exciting. It's practically guaranteed here.


  1. Irene,

    Your passions are admirable--as are our skills with pipe cleaners.