October 1, 2013

Sowing the Seeds

posted by Swearer Center

Rie Ohta ’13.5 is a Starr Fellow working on a semester-long workshop called $ocial Classmates that aims to create a safe space in which Brown students may constructively explore social class.

I had expected that by the end of the summer things would have changed – something unexpected and fascinating would have happened – and I was a little unnerved that it didn’t. I continued working as I had throughout the summer, developing curricula and reaching out to people and groups on campus to try and connect.

Since the semester started, however, things have been moving at an unprecedented pace. Suddenly people are reaching out to us, asking for workshop facilitation, the semester-long workshops are a go - though we had to disband one of the three, leaving one facilitator without a job (we’re working on it!) - and the ambassadors are gearing up and doing amazing work already. I almost feel like I can just sit back and watch! I can’t of course, coordinating is no joke. But transitioning from being the only person working on something, to having eight dedicated people working by my side has been a huge relief, and not just in terms of workload, but for $ocial Classmate’s future as well.

Now the challenge is transitioning from a coordinator – managing and designing and enforcing and checking in – to a coach and mentor for whoever will take my place. It’s hard to know the line between enough and too much when it comes to mentoring: how much structure should I put in place? How can I delegate work to specific people such that it translates to the new team next semester? How can I ensure the connections I’ve made this semester will carry over to the new coordinators next semester? And the most pressing question, how can I ensure the next coordinators have an entrepreneurial vision for $ocial Classmates that will carry it to the next level?

Any one of them could take my place next semester, and with the great work they’re doing, I want to figure out a way to recognize each of their contribution.  Ultimately, I’m guessing a few will leave at the end of this semester, and a few more will join the team. Right now, I need to keep everything on track, mentor and help out where I can, and start sowing the seeds that will hopefully sprout next year.

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