READY, SET, ACTION: a reflection on a/pia high school conference 2018

Ready, Set, Action.

That was the theme for this year’s Asian/Pacific Islander American High School Conference (A/PIA HSC). This year’s HSC embodied Ready, Set, Action before it even became our theme, when it was just my co-chair, Tiffany, and me FaceTiming over the summer. We already had a billboard-sized vision of what we wanted the
conference to look like—now we just needed a team to help us execute it. Little did I know how wonderful and brilliant our board would be.

I knew that Tiff and I had crafted a successful team because we chose people who believe young people have the power to change the world. Our team has spoken to over one hundred people to make this conference happen. High schools, community centers, restaurants, state senators, professors, students. A lot of students. Despite all of the time spent on the phone or in Google Drive (Google Sheets was my personal favorite), I think everyone left the conference feeling somewhat awestruck. For me, the conference wasn’t real until 8 AM on November 10, when Ready, Set, Action was displayed on almost every single body in Angell Auditorium C.

This is one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had at the University of Michigan. It was a culmination of everything I’ve learned from being a member of the A/PIA community. We made progress with this conference. We talked about colorism, identity, our untaught history. How to be an activist in your own way, whether that’s through slam poetry or public service work. Wherever the high schoolers were in their journey, my hope was that they took something back with them. Like realize they’re having a lunch box moment and being able to name it as so. Or educate someone about the history behind the Model Minority Myth. Or feel a sense of pride when they check Asian off in the Race/Ethnicity box.

Despite our progress, I know there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. We need to work toward making the Pacific Islander part of A/PIA more visible. We need to talk about class differences. We need to contact more rural schools so that A/PIA students don’t feel like they’re alone. That being said, I’m hopeful because our executive board is young and each generation brings new voices, even better and louder than the last. My one aspiration for A/PIA High School Conference is for it to always continue growing. I have no doubt that it will ever cease.

By: Tiffany Huynh

Civic Dinners: Opportunities to Learn Through Connection

It was a Saturday night, and like many Saturday nights, I just wanted to relax with my friends. This night, I was especially exhausted, though – I had just wrapped up the Net Impact National Conference, a 3-day conference in Phoenix, Arizona on the intersection of business, social impact and sustainability. The conference had consisted of 7 breakout sessions, 4 key note speakers, and a career exposition. There had been thousands of attendees from Net Impact’s 380+ chapters in over 40 countries, so there had been numerous opportunities for networking as well. I, along with the other 10 attendees from the University of Michigan, felt content but exhausted.

But instead of heading back to our lodgings or going out to celebrate, we challenged ourselves one last time through a Civic Dinner. Civic Dinners is a national organization bringing together strangers to discuss hot button issues, like race, gender, politics and more. The dinner consists of one volunteer host (who receives training from the organization), 6-10 guests, 3 big questions on the pre-selected topic, and an ensuing conversation. It’s a special opportunity to meet new people and hear diverse opinions – the attendees are more comfortable sharing intimate experiences and perspectives, both because of the mutual intentions of the group, and because sometimes it’s easier sharing with strangers. I had gone to a Net Impact Conference-affiliated Civic Dinner the year before, and invited my peers to sign up with me.

The topic of my specific dinner was Common Ground. This aimed to encourage participants to grow more comfortable sharing their political beliefs, to get outside of their echo chambers and hear something new, and finally, to recognize the humanity in all people, no matter their political affiliations. The specific questions addressed how we formed our political opinions, times when we’d change our mind, and one potentially controversial opinion we held. Due to the polarized nature of politics in the US today, I was excited to engage with the other participants, but nervous to share and hear diverse political beliefs.

My dinner was different than expected. There were actually 12 participants due to a sign-up glitch, so it was less of a discussion and more a series of short presentations. However, this did allow a greater variety of opinions to be shared. Due to the social impact/sustainability focus of the conference, our political beliefs were all pretty close; however, hearing different stances on different political issues was still exciting but stressful. Each time I presented, I was trembling a little and very nervous – it took a lot of courage to share political beliefs, due to their inherent personal and intimate nature. However, it was a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and learn from the strangers around me, and I’m extremely glad I went.

This dinner was more than one conversation – it was an experience that challenged my leadership skills and developed new ones. I literally engaged the world by meeting and talking to Net Impact students and professionals from around the US, and even some who’d travelled internationally to be at the conference. It was amazing to hear the differences between the places we’d grown up, and to find our commonalities despite them. Learning about these new opinions gave me more context for why some people have the strongly help political beliefs they had, and prepared me to better engage with a variety of stakeholders going forward, since I can now be more empathetic. I also improved my active listening skills, since I had to be engaged to encourage other participants to be vulnerable, but couldn’t show my support vocally due to the large number of participants. I’m excited to apply these active listening skills and my strengthened empathy in my leadership roles and positions going forwards.

So while it wasn’t the wild celebration most students might have liked on a Saturday night, the Civic Dinner was an integral part of my conference experience. I was pushed to meet conference attendees from other states and even countries, and heard about the role of politics in their lives, and how they’d formed their political beliefs. I grew more comfortable with difficult conversations, and with asking difficult questions, through pushing myself to be uncomfortable. I also heard different political beliefs and the reasons behind them, which pushed myself to learn from the participants’ different experiences. I am very glad I was able to participate in this Civic Dinner, and am grateful to the Barger Leadership Institute for funding this opportunity.

 

By: Charlene Franke

“I Engaged the World…Literally!”

A small grant from the BLI and a FABULOUS access opportunity allowed me to go on a chance of lifetime-six weeks in England, talking about the “beautiful game” of football ~ British English for American soccer.

Something that many people do not think about is the process to study or intern abroad. For this international internship in Manchester, England with the National Football Museum (thank you, London Access Opportunity!) I had to apply for a visa. This was something I had never done before but was reminded time and time again that even if I booked my plane tickets, I could not get on that plane until I had that visa stamped in my passport booked. That process? Rather lengthy for sure, but I was so concerned that I could not get it in time. And who knows if the Embassy was even going to give me the OK!? I would hate to be that person who is the bearer of bad news and tell my supervisor in England that I could not come over because my visa did not process in time.

However, after some waiting and receiving my passport in the mail, I saw that beautiful visa and knew that it was time to pack my bags to get ready for a trip I will never forget.

I really have to thank BLI and the LSA Opportunity Hub for this amazing opportunity, because I would have never imagined that I would go abroad, not once, but TWICE in a year and the year is not even over yet!

Who knows where I’ll be next…

By Jessica Selzer

Project Lazarus – New Orleans, LA

We want to thank BLI for the grant support that allowed us to significantly subsidize travel expenses for Alpha Epsilon Delta’s ASB trip to New Orleans! We spent the majority of our trip volunteering at Project Lazarus, the oldest and largest residential facility that supports people living with HIV/AIDS in the Gulf Coast region. In addition to housing, Project Lazarus provides services not covered by Medicaid or Medicare, and cultivates a close-knit community among residents. Further, many residents utilize the facility’s serene outdoor spaces in beautiful New Orleans weather.

Justin Pawloski and Emily Lerner work on fixing a bike

During our mornings at Project Lazarus, we played Uno and basketball with the residents. Occasionally, we participated in some of the classes and excursions set up for residents including a photography class, acupuncture, and a walk through the Margeny area to Crescent park. In the afternoons, we primarily helped the ground technician, Carol, with weeding and planting flowers, but also helped with other miscellaneous tasks including fixing the tires on a couple of the residents’ bikes and cleaning up common areas.

 

Emily Lerner and Carissa Bartkowiak take a break from gardening

The night before our last day of service, one of our group members got sick. Through discussion with Project Lazarus, we came to the conclusion that it would be best if we found somewhere else to work for our last day. We spent Friday morning contacting numerous non-profits in New Orleans and ultimately found two great organizations: HandsOn New Orleans and Green Light New Orleans. HandsOn New Orleans connects volunteers with service opportunities in their community. Green Light New Orleans empowers individuals to addresses climate change through use of energy efficient light bulbs, rain barrels, and vegetable gardens in their backyard.

Group members huddle in for a selfie with a resident after a game of UNO

On Friday afternoon, half of our group helped HandsOn New Orleans with demolition on a home owned by the executive director who could not afford to finish his repairs. His work is centered on providing volunteers to help other people, therefore it was rewarding to serve as volunteers to return the favor. The other half of our group split their time between painting rain barrels and gardening at the Green Light community garden.

Megan McKenzie paints a rain barrel for Green Light New Orleans

Out of all the BLI habits, the ones we used the most were ‘Pause and Reflect’, and ‘Expect Challenges’. ‘Pause and Reflect’ was a central habit of our trip given that reflection is one of the essential aspects of a successful alternative spring break trip. Every night after dinner we sat down, discussed our highs/lows of the day and reflected on service and our social identities. Specifically, we had discussions about what motivates our service, how our definition of service has changed or stayed the same, and how, if so, our awareness of different social identities has changed throughout this experience. On our final night, all ASB members wrote a letter to themselves about their experiences on the trip, which we will be meeting to reflect on again in the coming month.

Justin Pawloski, Lauren Weinberg, Brennan Metzler, Tyler Adams, Tosin Adeyemi, Zach Hoisington, and HandsOn New Orleans Director Chris Cameron smile after a long day of demolition

‘Expect Challenges’ was a habit that we wish we had contemplated a little bit more before the trip, but was also a habit that we definitely appreciated and understood more during our last day of service. It was challenging trying to find new organizations to volunteer with last-minute on Friday, but searching through all of the non-profit organizations in New Orleans also opened our eyes to all of the incredible service going on there. Our experience serving at Project Lazarus and at two other amazing non-profits instilled an appreciation for service that many of us will reflect on and carry with us for years to come.

 

By: Tosin Adeyemi, Emily Lerner, and Lauren Weinberg

EnspiRED Runway Charity Fashion Show

EnspiRed was an awesome show that is put on all for the benefit of others. This year we decided to donate to Ozone House. We were all pleased to see all of the people that came out to support us. We had six hundred seats and just about all of them were filled. We received a vast amount positive of feedback from people who came out to see the show. Additionally, a lot of the models expressed how much their confidence had been boosted since the beginning of modeling practice. BLI played an important part with show preparation by providing us with the funding to provide breakfast for our eboard, models, and production team by giving us a small grant. Breakfast is the most important part of the day and it definitely gave people a little boost of energy when they have something to eat when they are tired and haven’t had time to grab breakfast because the dining halls are closed early in the morning.

By: Davida Lee and Daijah Hills

The Winter 2018 Charity fashion show put on by EnspiRED Runway was extremely successful. The Show was sold out and the audience loved it. The charity in which we raised money for was Ozone House, a nonprofit organization in Ann Arbor where they provide shelter for LGBTQ, homeless, neglected or abused youth. Seeing how many people came out to support us made the experience worthwhile. The process of securing looks for all of the models in our show for each scene of the show that they were in was not easy; however, with the help of the Barger Leadership Institute, I was able to execute the vision of our organization’s creative director for two of our scenes. I used the money that was funded through BLI’s small grant to purchase bags for our scenes third and fourth scene. Scene Three was themed Rebellion. Our models looks were supposed to depict clothing that goes against societal norms for gender. We had males in tight fitting clothing and accessories that are commonly associated with women and unacceptable to wear. For women, we had them dressed in clothing that has an androgynous feel and look. Scene Three was arguably our most fun scene because of the accessories. The money that BLI gave us went to me making fun phrases on the bags in the scene, making fun of being materialistic. This can be seen in our inspired Gucci, Chanel, and Hermès bags that had comical sayings on them. We at EnspiRED Runway were extremely grateful for the funding from BLI and send our utmost respect for the efforts you put forth on the campus at the University of Michigan.

By: Delorean Slaughter and Alexa Orlanda

The Dot Org – Go With the Flow, Stop Menstrual Stigmas

With our grant money, we focused on a manageable goal for our greater project idea, and hosted a publicity event titled ‘The Period Party’. At this event, we spread the word of our soon to be established organization over the course of two days in the hall of Mason Hall. The event occurred on November 27th and 28th, and occured from 4-6 on both days. During this event, we distributed 500 stickers/small flyers, 100 cupcakes, and many bags of candies. Then, we started conversations with the students and teachers who wanted the food and stickers. We answered a lot of questions about the reality of the menstrual stigma, and had interesting conversations with students and teachers who were mostly supportive of our cause. This event was important to further our success, because it spread awareness of an issue that many do not understand or care about. Through these conversations, we ended up getting contact information from about 20 people interested in joining our cause, as well as many follows and likes on our social media pages. The food and decorations we bought with the grant money was what attracted people to our area in the hall, and allowed us to start conversations about our issue.

dotorgcupcakesOut of all the BLI habits existing, the ones we used the most were ‘Start Small’, ‘Engage the World’, and ‘Expect Challenges’. ‘Start Small’ influenced how we began defining how our team could succeed by the end of Leadership Lab. We recognized that we needed to start with smaller goals to accomplish, instead of big ones. The Period Party event was a tangible goal for Leadership Lab, and was a great way to start conversations on campus about the problem we address as well as the existence of our group. The second habit we used was ‘Engage the World.’ We contacted representatives from other student groups such as the American Association of University Women and Greek Life as well as our peers and asked for feedback on whether people would be willing to contribute to our cause in the future, and also if people supported our cause in general.

dotorglogoOur Period Party event allowed us to engage with students and professors and discuss the issue and how we plan to make a change with our organization. The third habit we used was ‘Expect Challenges’. In general, we always created a backup plan in case our ideal goals were not possible. We knew it would be hard to successfully plan and complete a drive before the end of the BLI section, but we had our Period Party publicity event as a backup idea. As a group, we learned the importance of creating alternate strategies.

By: Marisela Angulo, Justine Burt, Mallory Dementer, Gabby Morin, and Nina Serr

SustainabiliTEAM

On Thursday, November 30th, our project group SustainabiliTEAM created a successful tabling event that educated people on simple, easy ways to be more environmentally sustainable in their daily life. This event also produced a visual representation of the impact the event had on the campus community with the SustainabiliTREE. So, we ended up accomplishing what we set out to do. The event accomplished the central goals we originally set: educating and promoting sustainable habits on campus. The way that we ended up fulfilling these goals, however, was completely different to the original vision. Our original vision was to create a video educating students on simple environmentally sustainable habits. This video never got past the planning stage, as we quickly realized it was an unrealistic goalª and, we scaled down our project to a tabling event that produced the same results we expected from the video.

Three BLI Leadership Habits that were essential to our project include Start Where You Are, Collect, Combine, Create, and Start Small.

  • Start Where You Are: Where we were in the beginning of the course and the connections we had, it just wasn’t feasible for our video. We found that the resources we had could be the start of an event or smaller project, and began to formulate that instead.
  • Collect, Combine, Create: We all came into this project with a lot of new ideas and different backgrounds. All of our strengths came together to formulate this project, and we were able to work through each other’s weaknesses. Our project was successful.
  • Start Small: We had started with a huge goal of implementing a sustainability video on campus. This was unrealistic for our time. So we scrapped this idea and started small, with a more realistic goal that could be accomplished.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 12.14.21 PMThe most important challenge our team faced was coming up with a realistic plan that would still fulfill our goal in educating students on how to be more environmentally sustainable on and off campus. We started off with an unrealistic goal in mind, but through feedback from others, self-reflection, and group discussion, we formed a cohesive achievable target that satisfied the bottom line we set while including unique aspects. With our collected ideas and rational thinking, our tabling event went smoothly and fast-paced as anticipated.

We had a positive group dynamic. Our team worked well together and ran into few internal complications. We met every Sunday to discuss our progress and what steps need to be taken. We had additional weekly gatherings as needed. For example, members of our team met to speak to stakeholders and make posters during times outside weekly meetings. The most significant change we could make to improve effectiveness would be devoting more individual time on the project outside of these meetings. We were all effective when working together, but if we could have completed more of the tasks on our own time, which would have left more room for productivity and growth during our group meetings.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 12.14.31 PMWe had a few setbacks in the planning stage of our project. After getting told that our initial idea would likely not work we did not know what to do. We had to change our idea quickly because time kept moving even though we did not want it to. When we came up with the idea of a tabling event in Mason Hall, we knew that we had hit a good idea. I think that we learned about flexibility and how to get up after you knocked down. We evaluated the success of our project through how many paint chips we had on the tree and how quickly we ran out of doughnuts. The next steps for our team is to continue utilizing all that we have learned about leadership and working in groups in our everyday lives. This lab has served as a valuable stepping stone for each of us to learn effective leadership strategies while practicing them in our everyday lives. As for our project, we successfully created an awesome educational project that we will continue to promote. Sustainability is a very important topic, and with our knowledge on the subject we will be able to teach the importance of it to others.

By: Olivia Chan, Laci Duvernois, Allyssa Garza, Charles Jones III, Katie Kubityskey, and Maddie Topping

American Anthropological Association Annual Conference – Anthropology Matters in Washington D.C.

I took this trip alone to attend the AAA conference for the year as an undergraduate majoring in anthropology and women’s studies. Although I was not one of the many that presented at the conference, I believed that I should take this trip to learn more about where anthropological current efforts have been allocated. I was interested in the intersections of my many interests and to see how they play out in what is happening in anthropology currently. I have been interested in attending this conference since my freshman year, but I did not believe that I have the resources to be able to go. I have decided that I have wanted to go to graduate school in anthropology, therefore, I went ahead and tried my best to make attending this conference a possibility. While in D.C., I was able to attend numerous panels and roundtables that were of interest to me. One of my favorite memories while was that I could meet anthropologists and scholars whose work I have been learning about during my undergraduate career.

This conference was a means for me to network and also to see how diverse the work of anthropologists could be. Initially, one of my interests entering anthropology was archeology but gradually I found myself gravitating more towards sociocultural anthropology, as I was not familiar with people or professors that try to balance the two other than a select few. However, at this conference, I had the opportunity to sit on a panel that discussed the remains of enslaved Africans and contest burial grounds for indigenous peoples which allowed me to see the intersections of sociocultural anthropology and archaeology, and the possibility of archaeological justice or ensuring reparations even hundreds of years after. One of the greatest things about AAA is that I had to take a flight for 50 minutes and there I was in D.C. whereas others had to come in internationally, from countries such as China, Australia, Denmark, UAE, etc., which was a powerful thing for me to learn as an undergraduate as someone who values the importance of the field. To see people comes from so many different places and teach about their work and learn from what others are working on. I look forward to attending this conference next year in California, and writing more about it then.

 

By: Iman Ali

Next Generation Ovarian Cancer Alliance – Ovary Fun Night

Next Gen is a student organization on campus. Through campus involvement, Next Gen will work to raise awareness and educate people on the University of Michigan’s campus about ovarian cancer. This is exactly what we did during our event, Ovary Fun Night. Going into the night, we were not sure what exactly to expect. We were hoping for an enthusiastic crowd to listen and share each others’ stories and relations to ovarian cancer. Reflecting on the night, we got much more than that. People came to support others, people came to enjoy the humor, and people came to learn about ovarian cancer. More people attended the event than we were expecting and more money was raised than we were aiming for. Guests walked away with full stomachs, arms full of raffle prizes, and minds set on helping find a diagnostic test for ovarian cancer.Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 11.57.46 AM
We did not encounter a challenge, more of a few obstacles. One example being, we did not coordinate someone to create our centerpieces until the week of. Luckily, we were able to find someone to do that last minute. This was the first big event my board and I had ever put on. With this fact in mind our event went amazingly well. We were very happy and proud of all the outcomes. We hope to continue to have this event every year. We believe we can continue to improve and grow the event each year. We are already thinking of ways to improve the event in the future.
Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 11.57.01 AMWe are very grateful for the help that the Barger Leadership Institute provided in putting on a successful event for an organization that we began only a couple of years ago. We plan to continue working hard to spread awareness of ovarian cancer throughout our time at the University and will pass the organization on to others when we leave. This was our first big event and still preliminary steps to advocating for ovarian cancer awareness. But just like many other issues in life, each small step gets you closer to the end goal.

 

By: Aly Dahlmann

Crunch Time Cooking Initiative

On December 1st, our group successfully launched our first event as the Crunch Time Cooking Team. We have been working the past few weeks in the Leadership Lab provided by the Barger Leadership Institute on a pertinent issue on campus we’d like to address through an advocacy project. Our group decided to tackle off-campus dining as this is a concern of many students who struggle with cooking and choosing healthy options while juggling all of the responsibilities of university life.

We partnered with the University of Michigan’s Cooking Club to co-host an evening filled with information on off-campus dining, round table discussions about common student experiences with food, and a cooking demonstration with healthy and easy tacos. It went very smoothly and we were so glad with the student turnout as well as level of engagement. In the first part of the evening, we shared vital resources we felt have not been adequately distributed to students, such as resources on where to buy groceries and how to properly prepare meals in advance for the week. We then distributed handmade recipes booklets and pamphlets for later reference so that after the event, students can still learn and increase their awareness on dining resources. In the next part of the event, we split students into groups to talk about their personal experiences, and to no surprise, found that many shared the same insecurities and issues relating to time, budget, and lack of knowledge. We want to hopefully use this information as research for future endeavors, such as working with Beyond the Diag to add information on their website. For the last portion of the event, we shared the South Quad kitchen space with the Cooking Club in order to add an interactive portion. Students had a chance to make tacos with tasty vegetables and guacamole. Overall, it was a great night and our team is very proud with how everything unfolded.

We did have some challenges prior to this event, however, we were able to overcome most of them. In the beginning, we weren’t sure how we could relay all of information in an enticing format that would motivate students to pay attention and to also want to spread their new knowledge to other students. We went back and forth with a powerpoint to a discussion to a blog. On reflecting on a BLI habit, we wanted to think big, but also think small with the constraints of the Leadership Lab. Our group is very pleased with how we found a happy medium by co-hosting an event. It took away some of the responsibility of event logistics and scheduling. We were then able focus on the execution of our all of the valuable information we gathered.

We also wanted to take a moment to thank the Barger Leadership Institute faculty, staff, and students for their support and guidance throughout this semester. We also would like to thank BLI for awarding us a grant in order to end our project on such a meaningful and impactful note!

By: Grant Dukus, Alexis Schachter, Ellie Grupenhoff, Nuzhat Choudhury, Irina Kopyeva

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