Our 2015 Summer Ethics and Leadership Institute has arrived, and our 20 students are already making their mark on SEGL.
The five-week Institute focuses intensively on our core Ethics and Leadership program, while also allowing participants to enjoy the best summer offerings of our nation’s capital.
After some first-night ice-breaking activities, an empanada-and-salad dinner, our opening orientation, and our first dorm meeting, the students settled in for their first night (this summer we’re staying in an upperclass dormitory on the George Washington University campus, just a few blocks from the White House!). The next morning, the students explored their neighborhood (including the State Department and the Lincoln Memorial) and then trekked to our Dupont Circle Academic building.
Once there, they confronted some of SEGL’s classic low ropes course-style activities: trust falls (fully supervised, of course!), the Minefield, the Dream Reach, and the infamous Spiderweb. In addition to accelerating our positive group dynamic, these activities are designed to help each student reflect on her/his leadership and collaboration skills: to provide a base line from which to grow.
Prior to the session, we discussed the four keys to success at the Summer Institute. (These all deserve more explanation but we will let you speak with a current student to hear more!)
- Being smart doesn’t make you smart. Practice makes you smart.
- The best learning happens in an atmosphere of shared vulnerability. If you are afraid of sounding dumb, you won’t learn.
- Narrow your gap.
- It is no use trying to be clever. We are all clever here. Just try to be kind; a little kind.
After a trip to the drug store for missing essentials and dinner from a local Italian restaurant, we started our first academic session. Like many things in our first few days together, our first academic session is an SEGL tradition. Together we watched live CNN coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks–a difficult thing even for these students, many of whom were only in preschool at the time–and then we reflected on the aftermath and meaning of those attacks.
The conversation that followed was insightful, collaborative, gently contentious, and inspiring: this is a promising group of young people who are poised to carry the SEGL banner forward to new heights.
Today we chase after Skittles, argue over two provocative articles by the philosophers Garrett Hardin and Peter Singer, and prepare to meet our first guest speakers. More on that later this week!