Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Entering...the Capstone

The moment is finally here...the last class before graduation. Again, it's not exactly what I expected. Rather than a critical paper it is...well more of the same.  The forum participation, the reading, group participation and a whole lot of people who (if they are anything like me) have an eagle eye on the finish line.  It feels a lot like work in that we coordinate in groups to give our two cents on topics, create a joint schedule for our project, cross our fingers and hope for the best. I know my heart isn't it. I'm not sure how as a leader one would own this process. It amazes me how so many of us can show up again and again for work that needs to be done but provides no nourishment.

The text reminds me of undergrad where we read cherry picked essays of  some of the greatest thinkers of English literature. Although the selection for this class is more broad and abridged it is oddly enough some of the same stuff I read in undergrad. Back then I didn't realize how good the work was until I read the not so great work of the same period.

But wait, there's more--the individual project requires putting a portfolio together. I'm not certain what the goal of this portfolio is but I am trying hard to scrape my exhausted fanny off the floor and just do the work so I can be done with it. I am also looking for others sources of inspiration to keep my spirits up while I push through the final class.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Graduate School: Two Year Reflection 

When I first started graduate school two plus years ago I felt like a tiny tree in a forest of towering giants. I felt overwhelmed and wondered if I could withstand the weight of the assignments.  During the first course while reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed I temporarily thought about quitting. I am grateful I finished the book and learned the valuable lesson that oppressors are also oppressed. Seeing this has helped me stop the cycle of oppression by not participating in it--even when oppressors bully me.

I am grateful that about a third of the way through the program I was assigned to write a reflective blog; as I re-read these blog posts I see the changes in my thinking, my growth as a human being, as a leader and in how others perceive me. Each post was not necessarily tied to the curriculum rather it was an opportunity to dig deeper into a curiosity related to the class theme. Through personally challenging myself to develop further insights and reflect on these insights I see how I have woven the graduate school knowledge into new life choices.

What has changed?

I am at once more committed to helping others yet equally hesitant in choosing whom to help. This is not a judgment issue rather I've come to terms there are some people, situations and organizations I am not able to help right now and I do not want to drain my energy on these sources. With this realization I have finished projects I gave my word on and upon completion I tied off the connection, I released unhealthy acquaintanceships and detached myself from negativity (both in my internal and external world). I feel like I have outgrown the old me, released what was no longer serving me and  I am now ready to make better decisions, choose with whom and how I will spend my time so that I may, ultimately, do good.

This program has not had the strong academic influence I thought I would find, rather it has been a program in which I've willingly reshaped myself and my actions.  Perhaps the online format and disconnection from the classroom and rigorous academic thinking is part of it. I'm doubly grateful for this blog as the lessons I've learned from graduate school are the ones here, mine. Is this a bad thing?  I might've said yes before, but I have to say now I know myself so much better and I am a much clearer thinker. I have a big picture view in which most people need days before they can appreciate my perspective. People come to me regularly with their toughest questions and sometimes I answer them directly (if it's a technical thing) and other times I simply listen and ask probing questions. These people leave with a satisfying answer.

Is that enough for a graduate leadership program? I say it is.