Spring 2015 joins the SEGL family
Spring 2015–our twelfth semester–is here! Already our hallways, dorm rooms, and class discussions are full of boisterous energy, thoughtful reflection, and growing camaraderie.
After moving in, visiting panda cub Bao Bao at the National Zoo, and participating in our first-night opening caucus and dorm meeting, the students awoke to a tasty brunch: egg and vegetable frittata, french toast casserole, gluten-free pancakes, and turkey bacon. We then trekked to our Academic building for our first academic sessions of the semester.
Before we began those sessions, we offered the students some advice about doing well here academically. These four phrases will become part of each student’s vocabulary over the next four months…and, we hope, beyond:
I. BEING SMART DOES NOT MAKE YOU SMART. PRACTICE MAKES YOU SMART.
II. THE BEST LEARNING HAPPENS IN AN ATMOSPHERE OF SHARED VULNERABILITY. IF YOU ARE AFRAID OF SOUNDING DUMB, YOU WON’T LEARN.
III. NARROW YOUR GAP!
IV. IT’S NO USE TRYING TO BE CLEVER. WE ARE ALL CLEVER HERE. JUST TRY TO BE KIND…A LITTLE KIND.
What do each of these principles mean? Ask one of our students!
We then began first foray into leadership studies. After two journal prompts on great leadership and great following (and watching this clip for a humorous take on the importance of being the “first follower”), the students broke down into groups of eight and rotated through four low ropes course-style challenges: trust falls, “reach-for-your-dream,” the blindfolded minefield, and the infamous spiderweb. These challenges not only fostered group bonding and personal reflection; they also put students’ earlier observations about leading and following to the test.
Then it was time for the first advisor meetings of the semester (each student meets with an advisor for one period each week to check in about academic and non-academic progress), followed by a trip to the drug store for forgotten toiletries, a dinner of homemade fajitas, and our first academic session of the semester.
That academic session is a particular challenge, as it asks the students to watch live CNN coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Starting from ten minutes before the first tower was hit (CNN was covering a fashion show for pregnant women) until then-President Bush’s first remarks to the nation, the video is a gripping tragedy and a telling primary source document. The conversation that followed was full of thoughtful exchanges, connections to today’s world, and more than a few references to The Reluctant Fundamentalist, our required pre-semester reading.
What an auspicious way for a group of young people to introduce themselves!
Next up: our first Ethics and Leadership case study of the semester on ethical decision making, featuring Aristotle, Kant, Mill, two guests, and several pounds of Skittles.