Normally when I visit Detroit I go to see a concert or to cheer on the Tigers. I have never ventured to Detroit to volunteer, but on April 1st, 2016 I traveled there with my Leader Advancement Scholar cohort to volunteer at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
and CASS Community Social Services. With the Jalen Rose students, we all split up into groups and rotated to different service projects. My group started off making cards for veterans, then moved to another room to de-fuzz material for a nonprofit in Detroit called Arts & Scraps. After that, my group made door signs for the Special Olympics Summer Games, which are going to be held at Central Michigan University this summer. The signs were made for individual people to greet them as they come to stay in the dorms. The last rotation was very heart touching as we saw a presentation on OK2SAY, which is a program where students and other people can submit anonymous tips when they feel unsafe. After eating at PizzaPapalis, we went to see beautiful art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. At the end of the night, we stayed and did a debrief of the day at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center. In the morning when we all woke up, we set off to work at CASS Community Social Services. Some people went to shred paper, some went to work in the soup kitchen, and others went to make mud mats. I started off at the soup kitchen sweeping all of the floors, but when I was done I was sent over to mud mat making with a few other people. Mud mat making was a little bit different from what most people would expect. The mats are made from illegally dumped tires in Detroit. Homeless men are employed to make them, and the money goes back to CASS to help with other programs. After working with CASS, my cohort had completed our service trip and returned to Mount Pleasant.
I loved going to Detroit and volunteering because the service we did was different from what I was used to. The most impactful part of the trip for me was when I went to the soup kitchen and talked with some of the people who were homeless. They were so grateful for us being there to help, but they did not look at us any differently than they did their friends. When one of my friends was mopping, she told a man to be careful because it was slippery and he smiled really big and acted like he was sliding on the floor. He was joking around with us and I thought that was really cool because even though we were there to do service work, the people we were helping treated us like friends. Before we left, one man came up to our group and told us that if we ever have any trouble to let him know and he will always be there for us. After he said that, it really showed me that we were there for him and made a difference in his life. Volunteering should not be done for the sake of a picture to post on Instagram, but it should be done to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Sometimes service done does not even get credited, but it still betters the lives of others. When we all went to the Detroit Institute of Arts, there were so many statues that were made by unknown sculptors. Even though these amazing sculptors did not get credit for their work, they still created something beautiful. Service does not always have to be recognized. It is perfectly fine to let your stamp on the world be unknown, as long as it helped someone else have a better life.
Another part of the trip that I really enjoyed was partnering with the students at Jalen Rose to show them that service is fun. We showed them different types of service projects that they can do on their own time without us and they really enjoyed that. Because they partook in service projects they could do without us, I feel like they will be more likely to do them again. You could really tell that they enjoyed their day, and I really enjoyed my day too. The kids were so excited at the end of the day when they heard how many lives we had all touched through our 4 hours of service. Service really is an amazing thing and I truly believe everyone should try to reach out and donate an hour of their time to any cause at least once a week. It does not have to take much time to volunteer and it is such a rewarding feeling to know you have made a positive impact on someone else’s life.
This year I participated in the Special Events LEAD Team. My team was in charge of creating, planning, promoting, and executing special events for the Leader Advancement Scholars in the Leadership Institute at Central Michigan University. I met with the team a few times over the year, but we also communicated quite a bit through email. We held an event called LAS On Ice, which is an event that has been done for many years where all of the cohorts go ice skating together. My team came up with a date, time, location, and even a theme, superhero, to make the experience more fun for everyone. The team was split up into committees, and I was on the committee to take pictures at the event. There was one other person on the picture taking committee with me, but she was not able to make it to the event. It was my duty to step up and take pictures of the event and send them to the person in charge. Because I could not capture every moment myself, I asked my friends to send me pictures they had taken as well. One lesson I learned from being on the LEAD Team was to keep up with with all of the information that gets sent to me via email.Trying to get the agenda electronically was a little more difficult as opposed to receiving it in person because in person it is always easy to write down information when it is heard. With having dates and tasks sent, I always wanted to write them down later when I had something to write with, but I knew that I would forget to re-open the email so I had to stay on top of everything at all times. It took a little more effort than normal but I kn
ow this method of communicating information through email helped with my communication, planning, and organization skills. Learning how to effectively organize and write down information from emails with others will help in the future because so many people use email to communicate information. I have already started writing down all important information and dates provided in emails because I want to be reliable and never miss a thing, especially when I have a team relying on me.
During my second semester at Central Michigan University, I enrolled in a writing intensive American History course with the rest of the Leader Advancement Scholars in my cohort. The course was titled The American Experience and was taught by Dr. Tobin. It was a very difficult class for me because I have never been great with remembering the exact dates of events or wrapping my brain around understanding the causes of them. However, I did do very well in the class. I have always been one to ask questions and make sure I fully understand a topic. Knowledge leads to growth and growth is essential to expand the horizons of thought and perspective. I attended my professor’s office hours when I needed extra help; she was always willing to help me out and I was very grateful for that. This class reinforced the importance of going to office hours and not being afraid to ask for help when it is needed. From the content I learned, it showed me that great leaders do not always make the best personal decisions. What presidents, officials, and other leaders do on their free time does not always effect how they can lead a powerful movement. Everyone has at least one flaw; nobody is born perfect. John F. Kennedy was not faithful to his wife their entire relationship, but he was still a very successful President of the United States. In addition to imperfections, I also learned about leaders who faced opposition, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Stanton. These people faced opposition but continued to push for what they believed in and eventually achieved their goals. That is one of the major takeaways I had in this class that I will apply to my everyday life. Fight for what you want, even if others say it is impossible or they do not support you. Good this come to those who are willing to work for them.
I have been going to Detroit for Tigers games since I have been in 4th grade. The experience has always been amazing for me by seeing the big buildings, walking in crowds of people who are just as excited as I am, watching baseball, and spending time with my family. I had always been aware of the homelessness in Detroit from seeing people on the streets before and after the games, but it never felt real to me until I was leaving the Quick Lane Bowl Game this winter. As I was trying to exit the city in my dad’s car, I saw people huddling on the sidewalk for warmth under tarps when it was pouring down rain. I realized that not everyone is fortunate enough to lie down in their own bed at night in a warm home. We should all be thankful for what we have.
The service trip that I am going on to Detroit relates to the purpose and vision of the Leadership Institute because I am going to learn hands-on how to make a difference in student’s lives at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy by taking on a leadership role and facilitating volunteer work for them. I will also provide service through Cass Community Social Services and actively help the community of Detroit by improving the quality of life and the state of economy there by doing whatever is asked of me with eagerness and willingness.
I think the service trip will help me grow as an individual by taking me to places in Detroit where I have never been before. There, I will see things I typically do not see on a day-to-day basis. I grew up in a small town with a small community and I am not used to seeing what life is like living in urban areas. I will be able to extend a helping hand to those who need a little boost, and I will get to see the impact I make on the lives of the students at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. I will not be serving alone, but I will be helping with 50 other servant leaders; I already know that seeing others helping and caring will make the trip that much more meaningful to me.
Simon Sinek is a speaker who talks about how great leaders inspire action on a TED Talk by explaining that people follow based on what the leader believes. He presents the Golden Circle which dissects the way leaders and companies think. The outer circle explains what products or ideas leaders or companies are trying to sell. The middle circle explains how the idea or product works. The inner circle explains the purpose and beliefs behind the action or creation of a product or idea. Most people work from the outer in, but those who are successful work from the inner out. Sinek enforces the idea that people do not buy what you do, but why you do it. People who are are successful sell to people who believe what they believe, and they hire those who are not just in it for the money.
Sinek uses an example of Apple, illustrating how they have the same resources as every other company, but they are so innovated and successful because they tell people why they sell their products first. Instead of pitching that they make computers that are easy to use, they demonstrate that they believe in challenging the status quo by making computers that are easy to use. I learned that if I want to be a good leader, I need to tell people why they should follow me. I need to state my beliefs first because that is what people truly care about. I was introduced to the Golden Circle in this TED Talk and I believe its values and think its content is important to know when aspiring to be a leader. I knew that we follow people because we want to, but I never understood why until now. It’s because we believe in not just what they believe, but why they believe what they do.
I am now going to be upfront with what I believe and my reason for initiating a plan in meetings and group work instead of saving my reasons for the conclusion. I think that stating beliefs is a real attention grabber and keeps people interested and following. Just like Sinek said, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “I have a dream speech, not I have a plan speech” I will tell those who look up to me why I have a vision, not just how I am going to get there. For example, I want to decrease the number of people who text while they drive. Simply saying how I am going to help get the numbers down is okay, but explaining that there are too many lives taken from an easy-to-fix issue is why people would want to get the numbers down. A quote by Sinek that I am going to leave you with that I thought was insightful was, “Those who lead inspire us.” We follow those who have beliefs are similar to ours.
Have you ever had a dream that someone told you was impossible to achieve? Did you stand there and agree with them or disagree? Leading starts with creating your own path and doing what others do not do themselves. To be a leader one must differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd by standing up for what they believe in. When someone says “This is how things are going to be done,” a leader fights back by saying “No!” Good things happen for those who put themselves out there and make them happen.
Rosa Parks never got up from her bus seat and said, “Yes, you are right, I should move.”
Christopher Columbus did not say, “Yeah, it is silly of me to think I could sail around the world.”
These people said no and pushed for their goals because they truly wanted to achieve them. Being a leader is more than just a title, it’s speaking up and pursuing a dream. Leaders stand out by exploring an undiscovered route, not adding to the multiple footprints walked on a nicely paved road.
When I think of ethical leadership, I think of someone that everyone can look up to because their vision is in the best interest of everyone. Pope Francis is a great example of an ethical leader because not only does he lead Roman Catholics all over the world, but he accepts and loves everyone for who they are. For example, he washed the feet of a woman who was a Muslim prisoner. That is what Jesus wants, for people to love each other despite demographics. People want to follow him because he is a non-judging person who has an open heart with outstretched hands to all. I really admire Pope Francis because he is humble and works to lead others in his direction without criticizing or excluding others. When you Google Pope Francis, almost every picture that comes up he is smiling in. Not only is he inclusive, but he is happy. I think that is another very import part of leadership; carrying yourself with a positive attitude. According to fortune.com there was a survey done in March of 2014 where 1 in 4 Catholics said they would increase the amount they donated to the poor this year. 77% of those people said they would because of Pope Francis. He is helping the poor though positively impacting other people. If that is not great leadership than I do not know what is. I really hope that people can look up to me in the way that they look up to him. He reminds me that everyone is equal and we can all benefit from reaching out to one another.