The Right to Success Program

The Right To Success program took place on MLK Day (1/21). Our program focused on bringing marginalized students from the Grand Rapids area to the University of Michigan for a college visit. Our goal was to inspire and motivate students to pursue higher education and look into applying to U of M.

Students received informationals from the office of admissions and the office of financial aid and were able to see firsthand how attainable being accepted and paying for college can be. This was the first college visit many students had attended and we received very positive feedback from the participants and their chaperones. We look forward to hearing back from students in the coming months as they apply to colleges!

By: Alfredo Delarosa

Gym Buddy System

Our group decided to create a peer coach pilot program to facilitate greater awareness and uptake of physical activity resources on campus. This program will pair a student that regularly uses campus fitness resources and a student who does not use these resources but is interested. The students in our respective communities (East Quad, School of Public Health, and BLI) will be sent adverts describing the program as well as a survey to indicate their interest in being paired with a “gym buddy.” We also partnered with MHealthy and help promote their Active U program through his pilot.

 

We ran into a huge challenge while designing this program. Initially we were all enthusiastic about our goal to tackle mental health on the college campus, however, I think none of us foresaw the challenges we would face in coming up with a program we all felt good about. We struggled for a long time trying to compromise between our ideas and figure out something that could be completed in 6 weeks. At times we did not agree on what we each thought could be achieved in that time span based on our individual schedules. Although we did not expect to encounter this obstacle of indecisiveness, we struggled with it for some time and realized we needed guidance so we reached out to our peer facilitator, Ms. Fatema Haque, and with an outside’s perspective we were able to swiftly narrow down our options until we could all agree on a goal. Another challenge we did not expect but ended up learning from was when we reached out to stakeholders with the interest of collaboration. Some of our stakeholders did not respond and some responded with a redirection to another stakeholder. As a result, it took an extended amount of time for us to gather the information we needed from our stakeholders in order to complete our project. We learned it is important to take charge and show up in person if needed in order to speed these things up.

As for our project, our team paired each individual and facilitate one introductory meeting and 1 to 2 “fitness outings: in the next 2.5 weeks. In the end, we collected data respondents, 93% were females and 72% were students. Furthermore, 76% of people were looking to explore new ways to exercise. We ended up having many of the pairs contact their gym buddy and all of them thought they would have benefitted from the program from the start. In addition, there were two pairs that are still exercising with one another today! In the future, we hope to incorporate something like this into the New Student Programs to inform incoming students on the wide array of possibilities pertaining to physical exercise that are available on campus.

 

We all learned a lot not only about leadership through this BLI experience, but also things within ourselves, our capabilities, and how we want to contribute to social change individually. It was a rewarding experience and if we had more time, we definitely could see something amazing resulting out of our project. Good luck to all those who take ALA 171 in the future!

By:Jonathan Chuang, Khadeejah Khan, Vivian Obia, Jessica Y. Wang

Food for Thought: Snacks for Leadership Lab!

Hey guys!

My name is Justine Burt, and I am a Peer Facilitator from the 1st semester of the 2018/2019 school year.
I wanted to thank the BLI for offering funding to our project so that we could afford to get food for the lab. It really made a difference to the students and added a burst of energy when you got a snack during class. I talked to many of the students, and they said they always looked forward to seeing what the snack of the day was. They also liked trying new things and having snacks that they had not had since they were kids. We tried to keep the food choices fun and comforting while also throwing in some new things that people had probably never had. Thanks again for this opportunity and I hope we will be able to use grants for BLI lab food again!

By Justine Burt

 

A Holiday Helping Hand! Care Packages for the Homeless.

As part of the BLI leadership lab, our group made care packages for the homeless!

These care packages not only included items like socks and gloves that are extremely needed this time of year a local shelters, but we also added a personal and festive component to each care package. We created holiday notes and added candy canes to the packages as a way of creating more depth to our donations.

We hope that this will help those in need this holiday season! Here are pictures of the packages during when we were putting them together! We were able to have other UM students help us and talk to them about our project, our impact and the things we’ve learned while at the BLI which was extremely fulfilling and fun!

By: Jianella Macalino

Blockchain Networking Event

Our event was a blockchain networking event that started in ALA170 and succeeded because of the usage of BLI Habits such as “Collect, Combine, Create”, “Start Small”, and “Expect Challenges” throughout the length of the course. This allowed us to choose our topic, figure out the venue/catering logistics, create a timeline, write a grant proposal, implement our advertising approach, then facilitate our event.

Although we had several major setbacks, such as a typhoon delaying our grant proposal submission and our stakeholders not showing up, we managed to overcome these challenges and implement our Plan B to hold our event and receive surprising attendee turnout. Moving forward, we will not continue with this topic/specific type of event facilitation, as we all individually plan to pursue our own goals within BLI, but we hope to stay connected through the robust BLI network.

Overall, the members of Group 6 thought it was a challenging and rewarding experience, as none of us really had experience planning events before, and would like to thank everyone involved, especially our Peer Facilitator Jaylene and the BLI Funding Committee for accommodating our setbacks and giving us a small project grant to cater Jerusalem Garden for our event!

By: Luke Wong

Building a Team: Canvas Well-Being Project

When I was younger, my mom used to warn my grade school teacher that I didn’t work well with others. I was a bossy seven year-old, and I’m sure there are people out there that would call me a bossy twenty year-old. I still don’t like group projects because they often come with vague instructions, expectations of a cohesive group, and the uncertainty of relying on people who are strangers to you. In college, the stress is worsened by trying to coordinate the chaotic schedules of group members. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I registered for ALA170– I definitely didn’t know it would be focused on a group project. On the first day of class, I made my priority habit to be “Build a Team” because I knew it would be a challenge for me.

It didn’t start off great. Whereas most groups left their first class with someone semblance of an idea, we left with nothing. Not even a date and time for when we would meet next. I was skeptical about how a group, comprised of four aspiring-leaders, would be able to interact in a productive way. We all had ideas and passions, which overlapped in general themes but not in the specifics that we need to develop a project idea. The night before the next day of class, we held another round of brainstorming and ended up with what would be our Plan A.

Luckily for us, Plan A was the plan we would end up executing. Spoiler Alert: We wouldn’t reach all of our goals and the project certainly didn’t happen without some stress and unexpected bumps. Unluckily for us, most of these bumps came the day of our project. In my mind, I was going to be able to carry fourteen dozen donuts across town. As I walked into Washtenaw Dairy and saw my order, I immediately started to panic. My other group members were in class, I had no car, and there was no way that I was going to be able to make it even a block away from the dairy. I quickly called an Uber and was rescued by a lovely driver named Janet. We filled the backseat of her car with boxes of donuts and made it to my next location with plenty of time to spare.

The next challenge was transporting the donuts over the course of the next hour to
where other supplies had to be picked up. I was still alone, waiting for my group members to join me. I went to Angell Hall, my arms stacked high with donuts, and found a spare cart in an astronomy lab. Then I made the mistake of shutting the door on my way out. I had just stolen the cart and now returning it would be a challenge. On my way to meet Noah to pick up the next round of supplies, I called a friend with access to the lab and explained my predicament. He promised to be there in an hour to help me return the cart– the problem was solved. Once we were set up at Haven Hall, everything was smooth sailing. I calmed down from my initial donut-induced panic, enjoying the time with my group as we handed out donuts in exchange for survey responses. We even got to take our picture with Reggie!

Although we didn’t reach our goal of 200 survey responses, we gained valuable feedback and I learned that no matter how much you plan, you still have to expect the unexpected. Reflecting back on the last six weeks with my group, I realize I’ve just gotten started
with the habit of “Build a Team”. It took sitting at a table for two hours with my team to learn that they are really into the Marvel movies. I also learned that with any project, your team also includes your community and stakeholders. Without my Uber driver Janet, I would have struggled to carry 14 dozen donuts from Washtenaw Dairy to Haven Hall. Without my friends in the Astronomy department, I wouldn’t have been able to borrow the cart that helped us make it to the Posting Wall in time. By engaging with Wolverine Wellness and the Central Student Government’s Mental Health Task-force, I learned that many of the resources offered to students on campus are student-driven and student-developed. And without Noah, Elva, and Leo, I don’t think I would have been able to say that I, with my horrible history with group projects, truly enjoyed working with my team.

By: Alexandra Wormley

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

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