Monday, July 3, 2017

Bask In The Glory

We began reading a new book which is now a part of our discussion section of the class called Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson. It is about Henry Hudson and his crew of 22 men which he sets out with on a mission in search of the northwest passage. Spoiler alert: his final voyage ends in mutiny. The drive for the expedition was simply vanity and riches and fame and ability to have things named after him.

This expedition had clearly defined goals with very high stakes and risk. Heading towards the northwest was mainly for spices, since the financial bankers invested in this to make money. But it had many challenges such as navigation, ship technology, and prevailing winds. The novel Fatal Journey covers four voyages in which the first three are captained by Hudson and are quite successful inasmuch as every sailor came back. They were rather unsuccessful in finding the northwest passage so they had not accomplished the mission which they had set out for. 

We also had a guest speaker in the lecture section of the class, Rob Parker, who was covering ‘actively listening.’ Rob grew up in Trumansburg and teaches from the college of engineering, he teaches ‘How to be a Better Leader’ at Cornell University. He has also worked in various startup companies providing leadership counseling. He has worked in IT for fifteen to twenty years so I thought that was amazing since it very difficult to be a leader in a world where there are constantly new technological advancements and you have to change your approach to certain situations as time goes on. Rob has studied at the Johnson School of Business, and was here to talk to us about useful active listening skills and how that would help us become better leaders.
Listening is a way of relating to other people and forming the context for the way in which we will be leading. He also said he will try not to give us any advice because he does not know us. One of the first things he did was show us a scene from ‘The Office’ in which a man was exaggerating his smile and nodding to the point it was hilarious. What it was meant to teach us was that body language is used to show engagement which is how you show you are actively listening.
We also watched a video with a woman that had a nail in her head who was talking to a man who only seemed to be attempting to suggest that perhaps her problems were because of the fact that she literally had a nail in her head. All that she wanted was for him to listen and understand her hardships such as her sweater getting snagged, etc. This video was called ‘It’s Not About the Nail!’ (I know.) And it suggested that giving advice is not the same as listening, and that there is more power in someone finding their own solution than simply handing it to them. To practice we did exercises with partners and groups in which one was the observer and taking in the level of conversation and how it was going such as body language, if one person was doing all the talking, etc. At the end of class, Mark said he would see us tomorrow, we were all confused because of the syllabus it said we had the day off, so I asked him if he was trying to get us to listen, he just laughed and agreed with me and said we didn’t have class, very sneaky.

After class I grabbed some lunch and was hanging out with a classmate named Richard at Trillium and we were talking about the kind of Catholic school he goes to in Massachusetts and how it compares to where he is actually from, which is China. I was telling about the block system at El Cerrito High School and how he would prefer that. He said the schooling in China is very rigorous but it prepares him well for school here, but he sees a lot of competition and potential in the students here. 

I walked outside Day Hall which is where I would be meeting Janna, the Associate Director of Summer College. I had some time so I sat outside and decided to start blogging about my day so far, but I was not prepared for the many tours which would be departing from right outside there. A few people asked me if I was there for a tour, but I told them I was from California and how I was here for the Summer College, and how I was just trying to do my homework. Javaria and Robson came around 3 PM because they didn’t have class today, and we went inside where the man at the desk directed us to the basement I'm guessing. I knocked on Janna's door and shook her hand, we were there ten minutes early but she didn't seem to mind at all. She suggested we step outside in the sun, we all sat on a bench while she stood because she wanted to see our faces.

Janna and I
She first wanted to get our perspective on what happened in Newark and what it did to our energy levels. She asked us about how we were enjoying Cornell, especially this whole new level of independence. The only way I felt like I could describe it was a dream, because it truly is. She seemed pleased that we were enjoying our classes as well as the new environment, I talked to her about my interest in Information Science and applying to Cornell since I am a rising senior. She was answering our questions about the uniqueness of Cornell, and told us about the long winters, as well as the location, and just the community which not all colleges have. I could definitely understand what she was talking about because I had already seen so much of it in my course. After snapping some pictures with her, I was off to finish my homework. Janna was super sweet and said we were welcome to stop by and tell her about anything we needed help with, and that we should be proud of ourselves for getting where we are.

As I was walking back to my dorm I was thinking about how fast this whole experience was going by, and how I would soon leave all I had created here, it truly is a special place. I did some boring things such as straightening up my room, taking out the trash, etc. before going to dinner with my floor mates. Afterwards we walked to the slope with a bag full of blankets and towels which we laid down on the grass and just stayed there until right before curfew. It seemed picture perfect, the fireworks didn't start until it got completely dark and when they did, they put a lot of them at once which was nice to get some videos, not so much pictures. We pet a lot of dogs and our night was just spent together, enjoying the view and what we had. We walked back to Balch in time for check in before laughing at pictures of me putting on bug repellent spray and calling it a night. After all, there is no class tomorrow.
A night to remember.

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