Learn to relearn

Emmm, since the blog prompt has not changed from last week, and we won’t be like redundant work either, I will be writing about my work experience for the past two weeks, and there should be a lot of stories to write about.

I felt reasonably tired for the last two weeks. Work is one thing; there are certainly more paperwork to catch up with, and a lot more moving-around and getting away from air-conditioned environment, since all of us three working for RICE this summer are visiting different worksites and meeting with individual students. On paper, the tally of hours does not change much, as always, but being in a constant mode of moving certainly puts a lot of mental pressure on my part. I mean, going to various places in Philly’s summer days is not a hobby that I think people should be keeping.

Nonetheless, I can still call it “reasonably” simply for the necessity of it. The first two weeks of the program had been heavily on planning and strategizing, which was crucial, but that is also becoming increasingly metaphysical. There is nothing wrong with thinking ahead, but having the opportunity to communicate with students and knowing what they think about different things help me, at least, to put things in perspective. When I facilitate, I had the fear of pushing students too far, and ultimately become a part of conversation, instead of leading it in crucial moments. But the one on one with the students allows me to see the curiosity and the courage of students, willing to go to the extra steps. In the beginning of the summer, I went to a staff training on facilitating, and was told that the key to successful facilitating is to trust the students, to empower them, instead of powering over them. Going back, I think my “bad habit” of doubting the students was indeed a way of controlling, a mindset that only I could be the dominating voice in the room. In future, I should trust the students more and probably trial and error with them more.

Another tiring part of the one-on-one meeting is the interpersonal aspect of things. It is one of the few occasions in which I do not have to face 30 students all at once, and totally casual and relaxing. It allows me to be a bit more honest, and frankly, be a bit more vulnerable. I never consider myself to be an extrovert or someone who can comfortably share the most embarrassing stories of daily lives with others. But a word of advice from my colleagues is that I should learn to be vulnerable and learn to be okay to share personal stories with students. I did not get it at first, but slowly, as I get to talk to students more and more individually, I begin to see the merit of it. When I open up more, the students will likely to open up and share their most honest opinion. Sure it is by no mean easy, but it is the essential step toward building a common ground.

The past week had been a lot of learning and relearning, urgh, so tired.

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