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When it comes to women there are some misconceptions. For instance, there are those who think that women do not support one another. We are all competing with one another over a job, a friend, or a romantic interest. Women are all catty. Right? Wrong.
I had the privilege of attending the 2013 Women’s Leadership Conference hosted at Hunter College. Female students from all of the CUNY schools were invited to participate in a day that was all about girl power. Talk about your rah rah women or your girls rule and boys drool. Ok, well, maybe not the boys drool part but women certainly ruled at the WLC.
Marissa Job and Kelsey Richardson, representing CUNY School of Professional Studies, greeted me when I arrived to let me know what the day’s agenda would be. It was a nice way to begin the day. CUNY’s support system is amazing.
One thing that I couldn’t help but notice when I walked in was the diversity. I come from Long Island and Long Island is not known for diversity so it was wonderful to see African American, Muslim, Asian, and white women all there. And I will own up to one of those woman stereotypes. Those girls all knew how to dress. I resisted the urge to tell one woman to forget school and get on a runway.
There were so many remarkable speakers but let me give a glimpse of some of the highlights. Rosanna Rosado, publisher and CEO of El Diario/La Prensa brought tears to my eyes. Through her story of a five year old dancing on a table she made me go back to my five year old self on a table dancing for a room full of grown-ups who made me feel like a star. I was a star. So where did I lose that star power? What made me move from center stage to mixing in with the scenery?
We spend so much time trying not to appear vain or full of ourselves that we forget to acknowledge all that we are. What’s wrong with knowing we are strong, beautiful, smart, capable human beings who also love shoes? What’s wrong with putting on a tiara, even if it’s imaginary and knowing that we have a star power, that we are worth the glitter in our crowns? Listen to Rosanna and straighten your tiara and dance on a table, maybe not literally, but why not?
Joanna Barsh, Director of McKinsey & Company and creator of the “The McKinsey Centered Leadership Project,” gave the first presentation. She had our full-attention. She used exercises that enabled us to get to know the people sitting around us in a way that didn’t feel forced. By the end of the presentation I had learned some interesting things about the woman sitting next to me. I also felt invested in her and wanted to see her succeed.
More important was Joanna’s message to us about all of the self-talk that we do and the way that some of our negative thinking becomes obstacles, obstacles of our own making. No. She didn’t give some power of positive thinking talk that inspired us only to be forgotten later on. Through examples and demonstrations she showed us the small ways that we psyche ourselves out, small ways that can become paralyzing.
I especially loved her tip on thinking of a few good things that happened during the day and one bad thing. It was, according to Joanna, a way of retraining your brain to sort through the bad and recognize the good. It is a way of building confidence and through that building, you become your best self, a leader.
There were other inspiring women. Whether it was City Council Member Gale Brewer talking about the importance of community building and having a voice, or listening to Joyce Moy, Executive Director of the Asian/American Research Institute as she talked about overcoming shyness after witnessing her parents eviction being the catalyst that made her realize how important her voice was; there were women, strong women there throughout the day to provide guidance and support.
It was a day about women. It didn’t matter what ethnicity, religion, or age. We were all women there with one common goal–supporting one another and forming an unbreakable bond. We were colleagues, peers, mentors, and sisters.
I’ve never been a fan of the stereotype that women cannot be friends. My closest friends and supports are women. It is something my own daughter has grown up knowing. Women rock!
The 2013 Women’s Leadership Conference was a day that was all about us. I looked around the room and thought about the United States being so far behind other countries when it coms to women as CEOs, holding political office, being President. I looked around that room and felt such a sense of hope. Maybe somewhere sitting in that room was the future first female President. I just hope at her inauguration she will dance on a table or two and be sure to wear the most blinged out tiara.
Kristen is a single mom of 3 kids and studying at The CUNY School of Professional Studies. She is blogging while she still figures out what she wants to be when she grows up.
Welcome back students! Remember, classes will be held in our new space at 119 W. 31st Street, but administrative offices will remain at 101 W. 31st Street until later this fall. Here’s a listing of current office locations and contact information.
Enjoy the semester!
Claire Yang is a 2011 graduate of the CUNY School of Professional Studies MA in Applied Theatre program. She recently took a moment to send us this update:
In September 2012, I moved back to Singapore after three years in New York City. I was sad to leave a wonderful community of theatre practitioners, community workers and educators and yet excited to see what was in store for me in the place and cultural context I had grown up in.
A week after I arrived, I had the privilege of attending the Community Cultural Development Symposium with fellow artists, community workers, and policy makers. I sat amongst students and pioneers of Singapore theatre, in the midst of dialogue about new initiatives and old issues. It hit me right away that the community I was about to be a part of had a truly rich history. It is a history not without struggle (performance art and forum theatre were banned in the early 1990s and several theatre practitioners were accused of Marxism), yet the present seems hopeful (government/ quasi-government organisations now commission forum theatre pieces, some by those same theatre practitioners). That was the start of my on-going journey of speaking to, learning from and collaborating with this extraordinary arts community.
I now work for the Singapore Repertory Theatre as Education Manager. I am constantly filled with an exhilarating mixture of fear and excitement in this role and department that is new to the company and new to me. In CUNY’s MA in Applied Theatre program, we spoke a lot about the idea of “praxis” and how one can only make discoveries upon taking action. I think now is the time for some of that!
The Master’s Degree in Applied Theatre, the first program of its kind in the United States, is a sequential, ensemble-based program for students interested in the use of theatre to address social and educational issues in a wide range of settings. The program stresses the unity of theory and practice, and is linked to the professional applied theatre work of the renowned CUNY Creative Arts Team.
Today was our final day in Rwanda. After two weeks of working, we took the day off to relax and unwind by Lake Kivu in Kibuye (roughly a three hour ride West of Kigali). The views were incredible, and we were able to take many stunning photographs, both of the lake and the beautiful Rwandan countryside. We also visited a picturesque church in Kibuye that was the site of a massacre during the 1994 genocide. Although there was a small memorial to the more than 11,000 people who died there, the church still functions and runs Sunday services.
Having such a lovely and soothing last day here has made it no less easy to leave. After only a short time apart from them, I already miss the students from KIE. The work we did together was some of the most rewarding and exciting I have done in my life. Although we have accomplished much, it also feels as if our friendships have just begun. Knowing what we have been able to do and create in just two short weeks makes me yearn for more. How much more could we learn from each other if we had just a little more time? What could we have created in another week, a month, or more? The talent and commitment of the KIE students has been incredible, making the possibilities for additional collaboration and learning seem endless.
Our time in Rwanda has been so rich. The love and welcome I have felt during my stay has been immense, and it will not be forgotten. Already, I hope for a chance to return to this place, but I cannot say for certain what the future holds. One thing I know, however, is that the more I travel, the more I realize that I have left pieces of my heart in special places around the world—or perhaps it is the other way around; the places I have grown to love become a part of who I am. In either case, Rwanda is no exception. As my classmate, Dianna, said at last night’s farewell dinner/ceremony, “these memories are etched on our hearts.”
In just a few short hours, I’ll be winging my way back to America. Despite this, I will not say that this is “goodbye.” Whether or not we are physically in Rwanda, I think I speak for us all when I say that I know that this land and its people will always be with us.
We awoke to another beautiful day in Rwanda: birds singing, perfect temperatures and the promise of another rich day at work with the K.I.E. students. The day lived up to its promise. Chris and Helen led a session examining the speed at which things move in “real time” versus the speed at which things move in “theatrical time.” The session focused the students to look for “the important moments” in a scene or story. The results were exciting to see.
The work Chris and Helen did in the morning, translated into the work the K.I.E. students accomplished in the small groups later in the day. In a concrete mime session the students worked to find the essential aspects of an object. In a T.O. session, students made focused choices choosing specific characters to interact with and jumped into scenes only when they thought they could make a difference. While examining a poem through dramatic conventions, they looked for essential characteristics to draw the clearest picture of the poem’s main character. The work excites us and we are all are building skills and making connections. K.I.E. students in a session on making theater using fabric identified “commitment” and “concentration” as key elements of working together to create. Both are evident in the classroom. Theater continues to cross language barriers, offer us a tool with which to make meaning, and engage critical consciousness that engages human feeling as well as thought.
Jean-Marie Kayishema of the drama faculty stopped by each session today. In a conversation with Amy he expressed his happiness that we are here, that we offer the students an opportunity to make theater and experience the power of doing. The students are exposed to theory for much of their curriculum and Jean-Marie expressed a wish that the school could work on this particular brand of practical application all the time. At SPS, and elsewhere, we have experienced the power of doing theater. As I listened to the K.I.E. students discuss what they saw and experienced through the work today, it became clear they are experiencing its power too. As I heard them contemplate how they could implement it in the classrooms they are training to lead, I fully felt the parallels between us.
Visit the Project Rwanda blog and follow MA in Applied Theatre students as they implement the fourth year of the Drama and Theatre Education in Schools for Reconciliation and Development in Rwanda initiative.
Paula Deen is in the news again and, no, it’s not because people discovered that frying food in massive amounts of butter is not healthy. This time she was fired her contract was not renewed by Food Network because she did not perjure herself.
Ok, so it wasn’t exactly for not perjuring herself but that may as well be the reason. She admitted under oath in a deposition that she has used the N word in her lifetime. The tabloids picked it up, which of course was inevitable, which then leads to the forced public apology.
In the worst PR move ever, her handlers or her attorneys or I can’t really figure out who, put out her apology which was heavily edited and bizarre. It was so strange that it was then taken down and replaced with another apology video, which many thought was not sincere or heartfelt or maybe they just couldn’t get past the first strange one. Anyway, that was that. Buh bye Paula Deen.
I don’t watch her show and I’ve never bought her products but in my limited knowledge I remember her getting slammed for not going public with her Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis until an endorsement deal was in place. It damaged her brand and was really the beginning of the end for her.
Still, I think she got the rawest of deals. Accepting her explanation that it was acceptable for a woman growing up in the South in the 60’s to use that word is not the same as condoning it or even liking it. It is understanding a larger history in our country and the small part that Paula Deen plays in it.
She was not the cause of segregation nor was she the beginning or end of racism. She was a by-product of her culture and upbringing. She admitted using the ugly word, offered an explanation, apologized, even if it was strange. Why can’t we just move on? Why can’t we accept that people can evolve?
The N word is a word I heard growing up and I didn’t grow up in the South in the 60’s but it is still something that seemed to be acceptable to say. I always hated the word and I remember my mother hating the word and cringing when it was said in what should have been polite company.
Recently someone I went to high school with posted a status on social media using the N word in the most vile way possible. I guess he still thinks it’s acceptable.
I have seen an evolution though and while I do hear it on occasion, it is very rare. I suppose the fact that I have seen an evolution in the frequency and usage of the word makes me understand Paula Deen’s position a little more. And again, understanding or accepting her explanation is not the same as condoning her use of the word. It is looking at the larger picture and acknowledging that race has been an issue in our country for a long time and that it’s not always as black and white as we’d like to make it.
Sometimes as much as we don’t like it, we have to accept that there are generational and cultural beliefs that are harder to purge.
I don’t know that Paula Deen is not a racist but in this tabloid society that we live in I lean towards believing the word would have seeped out long before her deposition went public. Celebrities can’t go food shopping on a bad hair day without a picture popping up somewhere. I have trouble believing that Deen was making her African American employees use separate entrances and that nobody ever called a lawyer and then TMZ.
When do we move past the sensationalism and look at the reality? Paula Deen wasn’t trying to be our moral compass. She wasn’t telling us how to raise our kids or even making important decisions involving anyone’s future. She had a cooking show.
But I do wonder why we take such pleasure when people fall in this country. When do we remember that despite their fame they are still humans just like the rest of us? No angry mob needed. We have social media for that now. Kill a career. No proof needed. Move on to the next scandal.
You don’t have to feel sorry for Paula Deen. She’s made millions showing us how to cook. Ask yourself a question though. Was she fired because she’s a racist or was she fired because her apology was a public relations disaster? And then ask yourself if it was really fair.
Kristen is a single mom of 3 kids and studying at The CUNY School of Professional Studies. She is blogging while she still figures out what she wants to be when she grows up.
New Yorkers on the small screen! CUNY TV premieres several new shows on digital channel 25.3 this week. Based on the trailer there is something for everyone. Which one will you tune in to watch? Incredible Indies, Asian American Life, Surviving the Recession, or Arts in the City?
The Education Innovation Summit (#EISummit) conference this week in Arizona is a large and seamlessly orchestrated event, but one of my favorite presentations so far was not actually on the agenda. The keynote speaker for Tuesday’s lunch was to have been Larry Summers, president emeritus of Harvard, but after the tragic bombing at Monday’s marathon he needed to stay close to home in Boston. Jim Shelton, U.S. Dept. of Education Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, was tapped to fill in, and he was an inspiring speaker. Although Shelton said that he worries that the EdTech sector could miss opportunities to reach its goals and transform education, he shared enough insights to make it clear that he is not really a pessimist at all, just engaged and grounded. He also talked about his personal experience with great teachers and schools and the big difference they have made in his own life.
Shelton observed that some country is going to take the lead on education innovation and reminded us that U.S. education mavericks need to “build for the global opportunity.” He also spoke about how online learning innovations in higher education could have a democratizing effect, creating social capital and a better college experience for all. Colleges need to emphasize completion and acceleration, however, and the grade he would give higher education for the job it is doing at present is just a C minus. Gaps/opportunities he suggested for entrepreneurs included early childhood resources for use by informal caregivers, and K-12 tools for summer and outside of school, whether for enrichment or remediation.
The conference has also been lucky to have computer industry pioneers like Steve Case, a founder of AOL and now Chairman and CEO of Revolution, who drew on his years of experience to offer insights on the current state of the educational technology field. Many keynote speakers and panelists at the conference have been asked to make projections about the future, and Case emphasized that the start-up companies that are forming today need to be ready for them to take a long time to build.
Another great presenter was Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, a school that is taking the lead on education innovation and is a host of the conference. When asked about what tack ASU takes on inter-disciplinary work in arts and sciences, Crow described how they are involving science-fiction writers like Neal Stephenson to project future states, for students to build on in visionary ways. The Center for Science and the Imagination is where this all happens, and it looks like a really exciting collaboration. [Neal Stephenson, by the way, is the author of a sci-fi novel that could be a distance-learning manifesto: The Diamond Age. In it, an interactive learning tool educates and empowers a neglected child, who goes on to change society with what she has learned.] Despite Crow’s embrace of education innovation, he said he does not think of it as schools reducing the cost of a degree “by replacing faculty with robots,” but rather doing things to support instructors.
The conference has also covered an interesting range of topics in panel discussions that made me wish I could attend two sessions concurrently. The panel on MOOCs was not always in agreement about the projected future of these massive open online courses, nor on their impact on ‘traditional’ online education, nor even on the definition/scale of what constitutes a MOOC. Nevertheless, they did make a few observations. Asked if MOOCs represented the beginning of a do-it-yourself degree, ASU’s Phil Regier predicted that higher ed basics like having to take courses outside one’s major would continue. As for MOOCs’ usefulness for remedial coursework, he observed that the students who need remediation are not autodidacts. There did seem to be some agreement that MOOCs could have a big impact on continuing education, since the competency focus would make certification irrelevant, so long as the student learned the desired subject matter, as in a photography course.
Steven Johnson was the last to speak on day one of the conference, and so some people may have missed his presentation. Johnson began by talking about the ‘liquid network,’ social spaces in which ideas bounce around and lead to innovation. He took us from 18th century coffee houses as the space where the Enlightenment happened, to a redesigned incubator that improved infant mortality rates in Africa, to Apple’s ‘genius bars,’ modeled on the concierge service in high-end hotels (like the one where the EIS conference is held). As he talked about the career diversity to be found in the social networks of the most innovative people, I thought about the interesting range of people at the Education Innovation Summit – Ed Tech entrepreneurs, investors, business people, writers, policy wonks, and educators — all enthusiastically talking about how to improve education in the short and long term.
Wendy Williams is a media professional, educator, and cultural anthropologist. She is an online instructor for CUNY School of Professional Studies and lives in Brooklyn.
*Note: Although this article was published on April 17, 2013 prior to the Education Innovation Summit, the content remains relevant for the SPS community.