Written below is a reflection I did as part of a program at Centennial College. It was considered extra-curricular and would give me extra credit and a distinction in Leadership on my transcript. The program called the Leadership Passport involves being apart of at least seven activities which ranged from working with the school to volunteering for anything that would involve interactions with as many people as possible. I chose a tree planting exercise which was very fulfilling for me. Along with the seven it was required that we attend two workshops to be the foundation for what we have to do and also to give us an idea of how to write reflection papers and what they were looking for. we could either write a reflection paper for each activity or write one that would cover all. I chose the latter. I didn’t ask for permission to mention any names in this blog but I want to mention that this program has helped me to grow as a person which is one of the reasons I decided to do it in the first place. Mission accomplished.
My reflection got some recognition and I was chosen as one of three to represent the program in front of the Board of Governors at the Centennial College. It was a great experience and I leave the school proud of myself and of the school who offered such a great program. Below is an edited version of the paper.
My journey for my Leadership Passport began when I came off the plane in Ontario from Jamaica. I was in a new place and would meet many different people from different cultures. The culmination of all the experiences would change me into a not only a better leader but a better person. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my experiences would be so rich and so deep. I will leave centennial College with memories that will stay with me forever.
I first started on the journey for my leadership passport after seeing the posting on the school’s website and immediately identifying with it and what they intended for the students who would be involved. I was excited. I immediately started sending letters to the relevant people but actually did not get to start because of the strike at the time. I kept on querying about it until I got a response. I went into the office where I met with Christine and the way the programme was presented to me made it even more appealing. I immediately signed up and attended the relevant workshops which would be my guideline to being a better leader.
By being an international student I qualified for the international education aspect of the program. This for me was an international experience as I had never left home for so long or interacted with so many cultures. I was required to work in teams for my course project management which also had a course called Project Leadership where leadership was taught not only from a Canadian perspective but an international one as well. The investment of time into understanding the cultures around is very important. The interactions with people from Turkey, China, India and from many other places helped me to appreciate even more what I was taught by my parents to be tolerant of others and always look for the advantages of a situation.
As I write this portion I am actually staying with all my Indians friends overnight at their place discussing our cultures, the similarities and differences. Now you may say why did I include that but through interactions with them and others I have learnt that an effective leader understands the difference in culture and that understanding these differences and also the strengths can make him more effective in the way he leads.
My Canadian experience as a student has truly changed my life. At times there was frustration due to language barriers so one thing that I developed for sure during this experience was patience with teachers and students alike. I also developed close bonds that helped in terms of networking and helped make my transition from home smooth.
My other experience as far as what is categorized on my Leadership passport had to do with working on campus which I did through volunteering. I worked with the International Department on the occasions I was called upon to represent my country and also Centennial College. This experience was new for me because even though I spend a lot of time with social media I had never been involved with virtual meetings in the form of career fairs and web meetings.
I am a fast learner and within a very short period of time I was able to effectively and efficiently log on and contribute to the virtual meetings. Another bridge crossed. I was truly enthusiastic about the whole process. Being able to help others in achieving their goals while achieving the ones you set for yourself. Isn’t that what leadership is about? With the use of the school and its resources and making myself available I was able to do just that. It is important that as a leader, you set goals and follow through on them no matter how hard the task. This is a trait of good leaders and proudly I can say I was tested and achieved what I said I would. The fruit of your struggles will be always seen as was with the case while working with my beloved school. I have been asked to participate in upcoming events which will take place virtually along with other projects. What other evidence do I need to know that I have overcome and made a positive impact? Purpose is another word that is thrown around but with being given guidelines by the Leadership Passport, I was able to say I worked purposefully towards the goals that needed to be done to not only complete my Leadership passport but become an even better person albeit a better world citizen.
My volunteer experience happened during a time when I was feeling down because of unforeseen circumstances that threatened my course of study. Here is where my perseverance was tested. Would I be able to push through and finish what I started out to do? Well, I was determined to make sure the answer to that was a resounding yes. I did 40+ hours working at the Hamilton General Hospital along with a research coordinator who asked me to be in charge of the transferring of data as they were changing the way they handled information that came into their office. They demanded a high degree of excellence.
My parents had always instilled in me that anything worth doing is worth doing well so that wasn’t the problem. The challenges with the job were the tight deadlines and unexpected hiccups that caused frustration and exhaustion. At this point it was one of two things, persevere or give up. I had already gone through a lot to be here in Canada and perseverance was the only way I saw out. You could say my mind was one tracked.
Working with the team at the hospital and finishing the project left me with a feeling of real accomplishment. So much so that this summer I plan to spend time volunteering there while looking for a full-time job. It’s definitely an environment that allows you to interact with a lot of people and at the same time observing different leadership styles.
My Service Learning experience took place at the Morningside Park on April 28th 2012. I had grown up being a part of the junior naturalist movement but had never gotten the chance to be a part of a plant restoration before. I was extremely excited. With things affecting the earth such as global warming, planting trees may seem insignificant but is exactly the opposite. Here is a chance to make a BIG impact I thought on the earth and its future. When the opportunity came up I jumped at it knowing it is through situations like this that leaders make an impact. These leaders not only give orders but lead by example.
After watching Al Gore’s “The Inconvenient Truth” and even experiencing the mild winter that has just passed I saw the urgency of the situation reinforced when we got there and it was explained that the area in which we were going to work had eroded because of the lack of trees. It was up to the group of us to save that area from total destruction.
Another good thing about the tree restoration exercise was the chance to meet up with people who were as passionate about what they were doing as I was. We have a saying in Jamaica that “one one cocoa full basket” meaning that in this case everybody coming together will make a greater impact. We as a group shared with each other. I left making new friends and having an even deeper appreciation of teamwork.
To sum it all up the traits of leadership that were observed during all these exercises were not new to me as I had seen them before exhibited at different times in my life. What was new though were how they were presented and manifested themselves. I went away from all of them with a paradigm shift in my thinking about leadership and its impact on each one of us. Integrity, honesty, humility, perseverance, patience and the list goes on, were seen in all to different degrees but showed how important each one is. None can be considered insignificant.
As I leave Centennial College, I leave happy I saw the post which asked for interest in such a program. I’m happy I sent that email and even happier I got such a warm welcoming reply. My only regret knowing that I have benefitted so much is that more of my classmates didn’t take up the opportunity to be a part of this great program.
Below is just a pic of the group of Project managers of which I was a part. Until the next blog, peace….