Today, I attended the second of ten workshops in equity and diversity. I sat next to a woman who knows the Executive Director of the Will Steger Foundation that I am Webmaster for, with whom I had just met with that morning. On the other side of me sat an Associate Dean. When I got home, I logged into a social media site to see a post from the former Executive Director of a performing arts school I attended in my youth. She is hosting some climate speakers from Europe this week who are on their way to the Will Steger Homestead.
The reason I mentioned the Associate Dean is that I was attending a leadership in the scope equity and diversity. She was most interested in where at the University each person was from. As a group, we compared leadership to being an ally. Can you do one without doing the other? It’s not quite so simple. It seems you can be an ally without being a leader… but a good leader is an ally. Some people felt it was not possible to differentiate the two, but I think there’s a distinction. I understand that being an ally requires some initiative and drive to be available for anyone to turn to you for support. Adding leadership to that mix means that you are willing and able to encourage and take others on a journey to positive social change. Hitler came up–he was an example of a bad person with good leadership skills. Just as in my Education of Gifted/Talented class, it was mentioned that you need not be gifted to teach the gifted, but rather, you have the interpersonal skills to listen, have compassion, and work with others.
We then had an art project at the table. We each reached for art supplies; I grabbed the pipe cleaners and began making a globe after someone mentioned the word, “orbit.” We used that to demonstrate the multidimensional aspect of equity and diversity. Whereas many groups provided a two-dimensional representation of leadership in equity and diversity as their art project, we provided a three-dimensional aspect. Part of the exercise was to describe the art of another. I pointed out that, from a distance, you couldn’t see the little penguin stickers that represented people. I sang, briefly, “from a distance,” by Bette Midler. People laughed. I went on to describe people-shaped pipe cleaners as those who take on more of a leadership role. The lines showed how they were all interconnected.
And that was my It’s-a-Small-World Day, including children (me) singing.