The first place we stayed during our amazing study abroad program was a small, connected, and beautiful surfer town called Raglan. I have been looking […]
When one is trying to jump into the uncomfortably cold ocean, there cannot be any doubt as any hesitation could prevent the jump all together.
Today the UP Wayfinders crew experienced a day of fun, learning, and most importantly, humility. We spent this lovely day enjoying the tropical weather that New Zealand has to offer. Our time at our new home for nine days has already been utilized and enjoyed by all members of our group to the fullest of our abilities. Whether it be going for a dip in the ocean next to our residence, engaging in multiple games of Frisbee, or opening our mind to Maori traditions, this location is sure to offer excitement.
Our first event of the day came after lunchtime, where we were part of the Maori community in which we welcomed a local Auckland school for a day of culture. Going through the entrance ceremony a day earlier on the visiting side held a much different view. We were able to be a part of a community and a tradition which had existed for thousands of years. The Wayfinders crew soon found ourselves alongside the school children as the men and boys learned the Haka, a warlike chant often performed on the world stage at professional sporting events. The women and girls learned the “Ko Ihu te Waiora”, a traditional female led song. We then were given the opportunity to perform our new song in front of a captive audience of our peers.
When one is learning a new language for the first time, it is better to jump into that sea rather than hang around the edge. When our host Tiaki came into our home in the evening for a lesson in the Maori language, we all jumped in. Some of us were fast to pick up this new dialect, instantly making connections between our language and theirs in a fully immersive language exercise. However, some of us faced a lesson in humility as we struggled piecing together a language not normally heard in our home on the other side of the Pacific. Struggling with this language made me realize how small we are, while we are the center of our western world, the Maori see themselves as short term caretakers of this planet. Introductions start with our mountain, our river, our home, and we conclude with ourselves. Auntie Rangi, a strong and loving matriarch in the Maori community gave us some grandma wisdom and discussed current issues the Maori community face in Raglan.
Today was a lesson in failure, in order to grow and develop as better leaders, we must be able to actively try, and in some cases, fail. However the great Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck asserts that failing is just another way of saying “not yet”. Every member of the UP Wayfinder group has talents and weaknesses, this trip allows us to be able to both strengthen our talents and develop our weaknesses. We went back to our years as young schoolchildren today, learning to fully embrace learning without fear.
In order to be successful in any aspect of life, one must be willing and able to seek mistakes in their daily life and jump back into the surf with the excitement of schoolchildren, eager to learn about a world much different than their own.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of our beautiful, loving, badass mothers! We are forever grateful for your incredible sacrifices and unconditional love. Today, as we kept our mothers close to our hearts, we learned of the Maori people’s respect for the sacredness of the womb. For Maori, the womb is our “first house” and should be vehemently protected. During our initial, informal welcoming ceremony, the women in our group formed a line and walked in front, with the men flanking them close behind for protection. We passed through four wooden, carved pillars that mark the entrance to the Maori land, as one of our hosts, Madi, was singing a beautiful and powerful Maori welcoming song, Upon approaching the big community house, the men rotated to the front, and our guide, Tiaki, gave a welcoming speech in Maori, which was followed by a Maori song of support for his words from the “home side”. Our designated speaker, Nick Goulding, came forward, gave a speech of gratitude in English, and set our gift, one of the magnificent glass ornaments made for us by the amazing Mrs. Tessner, on the ground in front of our hosts. The gift was accepted by Tiaki, and our group presented the University of Portland Alma Mater, as a way of backing up Nick’s words, which were spoken on our behalf. The ceremony concluded with Madi blessing the food and traditional New Zealand tea, which had been prepared for us, and sharing the meal together. After being received by the Maori with open hearts, I felt a humbling sense appreciation for this unique opportunity and am tremendously eager to absorb all the knowledge I can in the days to come. We will approach each day with the Maori phrase, “mät te wä”, which, in this context, as Tiaki explained, means “all in good time”.
Going into this trip, I was frickin pumped. Everything I was going to see, everything we were going to do, and the friendships I was going to make and strengthen made me so excited. However, I was really apprehensive about being so disconnected. I would say I am pretty addicted to social media and texting. I like to be connected, and I like to relay my days back to my friends. But what I’ve noticed in the 3 (possibly 5, there’s some debate because we skipped Wednesday) days we’ve been here that I do not need all these things in order to feel connected. I have realized on day 3 of being in Raglan that the only outlet I need is a journal and some quality time. On the first day of journaling I literally started off with, “I suck at being reflective. I am going to suck at journaling.” Later that day I continued on to say, “This whole thing scares me. I feel so disconnected, which I knew would happen. I need this break from social media, but I miss talking to my friends and family.” This whole situation stressed me out. Being on the other side of the world, in a whole different hemisphere, and not being able to connect with everyone from home? Stressful. It took me a few days to finally realize this, but everyone from home is right here. (Cheesy, I know). But I spent an entire semester getting to know these people in class. How could they not remind me of home?
Branching off of this whole being disconnected thing, I was really scared that we would all be put outside our comfort zone, with being in New Zealand and not having our phones, and we would all go to the people we were most familiar with in the group. I thought cliques would form. But honestly, from day 1, it was the exact opposite. Without our phones we became more self-aware. We didn’t have a phone to hide behind in awkward situations or during down time, so instead we would turn to each other to learn more about the people we are spending the next month. This has made me so incredibly happy. I thought this trip was going to be amazing, of course, but I also thought I would be stressed because of the disconnect. All the nervousness I had going into this has vanished completely within three days. I wanted to blog tonight because I want to challenge others to disconnect a bit too. Maybe delete snapchat, Instagram, or twitter. Take a step back and breathe. Don’t try and listen for the little buzz in your pocket. This adventure so far has made me realize all my anxiety and stress stems a lot from my phone. Waiting for that one text or snap back, and getting anxious when it says “opened” and there is no response, and going into this black hole of anxious thoughts. I have not felt this relaxed and content in such a long time. Especially doing this trip after the stress and turmoil of finals has been so good for me, and the I’m sure the same is true for so many others I am here with. Closing orientation here in Raglan, I am only more excited to see what else this trip can do to help me grow.
Also here’s some fun photos that have no connection to this, but show the connections we’re making. (Love you Mom here’s some goodies.)
After the sleep deprivation from yesterday, I originally thought today could go either really well or really poorly. I definitely felt refreshed after sleeping on an actual bed instead of in a chair while the plane bumps around slightly, and I felt energized to take on the day.
As a group, we first gathered for breakfast. A couple people went on an early morning run, but most grabbed some coffee and chatted or read while they woke themselves up. I think today emphasized group building, and figuring out how to build a team or teams out of the skills we bring to the table. Doug had each of us tell everyone one skill we felt we brought to the table. There were a lot of skills centered around positivity.
We separated into 4 groups, picked randomly from a hat of 4 people each. The 4 groups were sent on a scavenger hunt around Raglan from about 11 to 4. Each group definitely got closer after the scavenger hunt, and had a blast. Every group got along great, and knew what their skills were while going around the city. Most had an hour or 2 to spare afterwards and hung out around Raglan and just talked.
After the scavenger hunt, a group of 4 people began cooking spaghetti and garlic bread. The others played games or talked, which seemed to be another theme today. A lot of the bonding has been over games which has been really fun. We knew each other beforehand, but we hadn’t really talked much as a group outside of group dinners. Seeing each other both within our teams and while competing against or with each other in the games really helped us understand how everyone else works.
After dinner, we gathered in one of the bigger houses and had a group debrief. All teams found all the answers for the scavenger hunt, and we had a great time talking about all the cool places we went in Raglan. Then, most of the group began playing Mafia, while a couple other people went searching for rumored hedgehogs that were in the garden. The group playing Mafia slowly whittled down as the day progressed, before everyone who didn’t live in the house left to go journal, read, or sleep.
I had no idea what to expect on the first day of the New Zealand excursion. Many of us were sleep deprived from the plane and I personally knew I was not feeling my best, and I am quite confident others felt the same. Despite any notable roadblocks to our immersion, we all kept an incredibly positive and uplifting attitude the whole day.
With a group size of 18, it can often be hard for such a positive vibe to maintain, but for this group, it was almost impossible not to be smiling ear to ear, as one group member told us absurdly funny stories about her flight experiences.
I wondered what could possibly be playing a role in this. All of these people are wonderful of course, but when you put 16 sleep deprived/ hungry college students in close quarters can often be disastrous.
After our first debrief this evening, my question was answered.
Tonight, each and every one of us shared one thing that we were personally grateful for since beginning the trip. Every person’s answer differed slightly, of course, but the main takeaway was that we were all happy to have each other to lean on for pep talks and positive vibes. Some of the group had a spontaneous trip to the beach where they all hiked down together and played in the gorgeous ocean water that the New Zealand beaches had to offer. Others gathered in a group teaching others card games and playing them, bonding and getting to know each other even better than we had before.
And this is only Day 1!
We have 27 more days together and I can only see it getting better from here. When you step back from all the stress of international travel, there is so much gratitude that is to be had by the people you are spending your time with.
We’re excited for the adventure ahead! See you in New Zealand!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Attributed to Mark Twain
Welcome to the Global Perspectives on Leadership: New Zealand Blog! My name is Dr. Dave Houglum and I am the Director for Leadership for the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation at the University of Portland and serve as the faculty leader for this new course. This Blog will highlight the learning experiences and reflections of the amazing students who are currently in this course. We are thankful for this collaborative journey ahead with the University of Portland’s Franz Center for Leadership, Studies Abroad, and Carpe Diem Education: (https://www.carpediemeducation.org/).
Our course has been meeting every week for about an hour and a half during the Spring Semester, developing the critical knowledge, skills, and mindsets to prepare us for the exciting journey ahead in New Zealand. As Marcel Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
We have been drinking from the firehouse of amazing content over the past four months. Here is a brief description of many of the concepts and themes we have been learning about in the Global Perspectives on Leadership course thus far: global mindset, skillset, and heartset, servant leadership – serving first and through that serving we express life-giving generative leadership (Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the Growth of People, Building Community), accompaniment – walking alongside others seeing others at eye-level, slowing down, being truly present, kinship, the interconnectedness of life and that we’re all parts of the same human family, adaptive leadership (particularly the mindset and practice of “Yes, And”…), the Social Change Model of Leadership Development (7 Cs – Consciousness of Self, Collaboration Congruence, Commitment, Common Purpose, Controversy with Civility, Citizenship), Wayfinding Leadership – the Maori indigenous people’s way of understanding the world/leading, Mana, Mauri Ora, philosophy of recognition, sphere intelligence, importance of the journey; importance of engaging with other perspectives, not one single story (expanding our perspectives and consciousness, overcoming the limitations of stereotypes), curiosity – begin with curiosity, wonder, “curiosity, not judgment,” gratitude, compassion – to suffer with; gender, tradition, culture, and leadership; the GLOBE study and its dimensions (Performance Orientation, Assertiveness, Future Orientation, Human Orientation, Institutional Collectivism, In-Group Collectivism, Gender Egalitarianism, Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance), being uprooted/disturbed/awakened (to ourselves, others, and the world), dance floor and balcony (being a part of the “dance” – being actively engaged and participating in the world, and then going to the “balcony” to pause, reflect, notice, become more aware, and see new patterns from a different vantage point), and VUCA – which stands for “Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous” (often used to describe the state of the world, and it’s only accelerating!). As you can see, we’ve been learning a lot and there is still so much to learn while we are in New Zealand!
Over the past couple weeks, each student has selected one of the University of Portland’s Leader Character Habits that he or she will be deliberately practicing during our experience in New Zealand. These Leader Character Habits are: Motivational, Resilient, Reflective, Empathic, Prudent, Courageous, and Purposefully Engaged. Students have also been developing a greater awareness of their strengths and discerning how they will intentionally leverage their strengths to practice their Leader Character Habit of choice.
Please know that each student will have a couple opportunities to share about his or her experiences on this Blog while we are in New Zealand. It is possible that we might not have internet every day of our experience, however we will post whenever we are able. Thank you so much for your support of the University of Portland and Global Perspectives on Leadership. We hope that you enjoy accompanying our group and learning with us during this amazing journey!
Dr. Dave Houglum
Global Perspectives on Leadership: New Zealand 2018!