July 16, 2013

Smooth Sailing

by Rie Ohta

Rie Ohta '13.5 is a Starr Fellow working on a semester-long workshop called $ocial Classmates.

I was expecting that by this point in the summer I would have epic stories of assumptions torn apart, of partnerships won and lost, of ups and downs that led me to greater understandings and wisdom. On the contrary, this summer has been one of the quietest in the last four years.

The past month and a half have been pretty near perfect. I’ve been working on the most straightforward part of my summer work on $ocial Classmates – curriculum & facilitator training development. It has been immensely satisfying to spend a day immersing myself in readings and, using them, formulating next semester’s workshops. My knowledge of the subjects we cover has expanded to a great extent, as has my understanding of curriculum development. I now feel better equipped than ever to lead this group, knowing that my theoretical foundation is sound.

There have been bumps along the way of course, there always are. I had problems scheduling my time at the beginning, and had to devise a system of deadlines and accountability to keep myself on track. This was challenging, as I have never before worked in such a self-directed manner, and disciplining myself has never been something I’m keen to do. At first I thought that working alone on my own project would come naturally to me, since I take on so much during the school year. Not the case. Not having someone to report to or externally assigned deadlines to follow was hard, and my lackluster work ethic made me question my passion in $ocial Classmates as well as my ability to work independently. Thankfully, with the help of friends, I faced my problems in an honest way and devised a system that works for me. I have since implemented this system in other parts of my life, to varying degrees of success (I’m still not going to the gym every day…) In this process I learned uncomfortable things about myself, but also that by owning up to them I can and have overcome them. In addition to this challenge, I have had some managing-people problems, which I do not feel comfortable detailing in a public forum, but am happy to talk about in person.

On the whole though, work on $ocial Classmates has proceeded almost strangely according to plan. I will be working more with people in the following month, which I expect will bring a lot of problems but also a lot of opportunities for growth – they always seem to!

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