July 17, 2013

Living up to a Mission

by Alain Laforest

Alain Laforest '15 is a Starr Fellow working on the Frontier Learning Science Bowl League.

IMG_20130706_131303  IMG_20130706_144645

The days leading up to my twentieth birthday were nerve wrecking. All of my plans to create a program that lived up to its mission would be tested by the first day of the Brown Science Bowl Pilot Program Summer Program. My birthday became an afterthought replaced by my greatest fear - creating a program that didn't live up to its mission.

I hit the gym. I worked out, played basketball, and did all I could to release stress - but nothing worked. I spoke with whoever would listen but all the mentorship in the world couldn't silence my self doubt. All the thoughts of everything that could possibly go wrong were only silenced as Randy, the first student to arrive, walked into Smith-Buonanno Hall for the first time Saturday morning.

On July 6th, eight brave Providence high school students visited Brown University to "play" science. After completing an intensive diagnostic exam adopted from the New York State Regents examination, the students played their first rounds Science Bowl and learned about cell structure in a curriculum led by Samantha Rose and Lee-Sien Kao.

As I sat back to assess how things were going, I couldn't help but notice that the students were having a great time and crack a smile when I overheard one student say "I wish my science class was like this." It wasn't perfect and I didn't save the world in a day, but that told me all I needed to know. Although I have a lot to learn, I'm off to a great start and I'm learning more from the students each day. For my birthday, I got to invite students to Brown and get them excited about learning (and I had an awesome plant cell-cake too!).

What do you guys do to handle stress? How do you manage to keep things in perspective when the methods you use fail?

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