dukeengageseattle2012

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Trying Times

Challenge: any tasks that stimulates you to engage and tests your strength and skills.
This past week has been defined by challenges of the most unexpected variety. To give you some context, allow me to explain our project at the Austin Foundaiton this summer…

We are in charge of organizing and teaching a group of underprivileged community youth about nutrition and exercise, coordinating active outreach programs within the community in which they all participate, and most importantly making sure they all behave themselves and cooperate…

That being said, we have been warned countless times of the potential insubordination and backtalk we might incur from the youth when we ask them to do a task or conduct themselves a certain way. Stories from a few incidents involving the youth and last years DukeEngage interns were enough to have me on edge by the time the youth’s orientation day rolled around.
Now comes the irony…

The first day, orientation ran smoothly. While a few of the youth seemed to have spouts of laziness, they otherwise listened well and respected each task we had them do. As relieved as I was, we were far from in the clear.

The next day was cleaning day. A well-organized schedule and what seemed to be a compliant co-worker team led me to believe that this day too would flow smoothly. However, it was somewhere between giving directions to kids, interviewing another potential youth and running around making sure everyone had a job, that I found myself being sternly scolded by an intimidating, large and furious trainer. My supervisors assured me that I had done nothing wrong and that this trainer just had a tendency to let the littlest of things infuriate him. Yet, I couldn’t shake the feelings of guilt, embarrassment and failure that ran through me.

Now, while I’ve rarely been as intimidate by anyone in my life, I have been reprimanded by an authority figure before. That wasn’t it. It was the feeling that it was only the second week and I was already letting my community partner down.

The repercussions of that confrontation continued for the rest of the day, as I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster: venting, laughing, and verging on tears all at the same time. High strung from the day, I took the littlest of critiques and felt the need to argue them in my favor, almost as a need to prove my capabilities to others, but more importantly to myself.

Growth: the process of developing or maturing, mentally, physically and emotionally.

Defining a whole by a single day may seem unjust, but for me I feel like that day was a turning point in my experience: an opportunity for tremendous growth.

In our reflection session we discussed (quite fittingly for me) ‘personality.’

Personality, as our group sees it, is dynamic and defined by your reactions in situations. You come to learn about your personality’s many facets over time as you engage in more life experiences. The events of this week revealed a new facet of my personality to me: lacking confidence when my decisions are under scrutiny.

The most important thing I can do from now on is be confident. Given the amount of responsibility our supervisors have given us, you have no time to be timid in discussions, unsure of decisions and broken by confrontations. Trust yourself. Make a decision. Stand by that decision.

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This entry was posted on July 6, 2012 by .
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