Immersion Trip: Day Three

Today we returned to the library after saying goodbye to our beloved bed and breakfast. We continued the Five Star leaders program with introducing our characters and acting out the press conference. Eisenhower (Christina) and her federal team (Andy, Jeff, Meg Ryan, and Lewis) decided to send in the federal troops to Little Rock just as the real Ike did! The rest of us acted as the press and asked tough questions to all different members of the federal team. This press conference concluded our program at the library. We then visited the gift shop, Ike and his wife’s grave, and reenacted a picture of Ike’s family on their front porch!

After a quick stop for lunch, we hit the road for Little Rock, Arkansas. I am actually blogging from the car currently because we aren’t expected to arrive to Philander Smith College, where we are staying, until about 10:30 tonight. Needless to say the 9 hours in the cars have been great bonding for us all!



Immersion Trip: Day Two

We started off the day with a fantastic breakfast of yogurt parfaits and coconut pecan french toast made by Adrienne, our b&b owner. Next we headed over to the Eisenhower Presidential library. Once there, we got a special look at the archives in the library relating to civil rights issues. We even got to touch real documents that Ike touched! Next we started the Five Stars Leaders program that is run by the Eisenhower library. We learned about the five-star leadership model and how it relates to the social change model that we have been using. Then we stopped for lunch at a local favorite and to walk around town.

Matt with a statue of Ike as a young boy!

Matt with a statue of Ike as a young boy!

After lunch we continued the five-star leaders program. With this program, we each picked a person who was involved in the issues around desegregating schools in some way or another and researched them a bit. We practiced our public speaking by pretending to be our person and introducing them to the rest of the group. There was great feedback given! Lastly we toured the Eisenhower museum and the house Ike grew up in with his five brothers, Mom, Dad, and Grandfather.

The group in front of the Eisenhower sign

The group in front of the Eisenhower sign

All of us in front Ike's statue

All of us in front Ike’s statue

We took a break before dinner to give everyone some free time. Some people went on a bike ride around the town and others played tennis. Later, Mack Teasley, former director of the library came over for pizza. He had a great deal of information about Eisenhower’s life. Then we all hung out before hitting the hay for our busy day tomorrow.

Andy and Jeff, two of the facilitators, getting ready for the big day tomorrow

Andy and Jeff, two of the facilitators, getting ready for the big day tomorrow

Immersion Trip: Day One

After an early departure Sunday morning from Gettysburg, we landed in Kansas City and promptly indulged in some Kansas City BBQ.  Yum!  We left the restaurant in style in our three matching mini-vans to get on our way to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas. 


After a brief introduction to the site from a park ranger, we toured the exhibits and galleries.  The exhibits included a short film discussing race and the American creed.  Our experience at the site led to a thought-provoking discussion.  The initial questions were: Is this just history?  How is what we saw here relevant in our lives today?

One participant thought of this quote: “The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed. This whole country was made by greater fools.” This got everyone thinking about how to cause change and how our generation has the power to do so.

ImageAfter Topeka, we piled back into the vans to head to Abilene, Kansas. We checked into our beautiful bed and breakfast, The Victorian Inn. We ended the evening with a nice group dinner and games in “the Nest”.



Leadership Institute D.C. Trip

         “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” This quote is one of General Dwight David Eisenhower’s most famous and gets to the core of his leadership philosophy. Throughout out trip to D.C. I kept coming back to this quote, especially the first idea, leadership is an art.

         Our trip had several great highlights: We met the highly esteemed Susan Eisenhower and had a wonderful lunch with her, we took a brief tour of the capitol, and we also visited both the Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln Memorials. At our lunch, we had a wonderful discussion about Susan Eisenhower’s career path and her incredible service to this country. We examined her courage, self-control, ingenuity, and many other key traits that made her a leader. Leadership is an art. At the capitol, we took a brief tour of the atrium and also looked at the history of the United States Congress. There have been so many great congressional leaders that it would be silly to name them all here. Some were great speakers, some were great writers, some great thinkers, and others great mediators. All led in their own way. Leadership is an art. At the memorials, we were shown the examples of two individuals who are often considered the two greatest leaders in American history. Both broke away from societal norms and stood for what they believed was right. Both declared they had visions of the future for a truly United States. Both spoke, and millions listened. Leadership is an art.

          Toward the end of the trip, as we were about to make our final departure from the Lincoln Memorial, I stood upon its hallowed steps and considered that idea. Leadership is an art. Art is the expression or application of human creativity and imagination. Art is expressed through forms often called mediums. We all have different natural abilities with different mediums. I could play the piano every day from now until I die and I will never be a Mozart. I could kick a soccer ball 1000 times a day for 100 years and I will never bend it like Beckham. I could write until my hand falls off and I will never approach Shakespeare. But I do have my own abilities, some lesser and some greater. I am capable of expressing myself and my creativity and imagination well through certain mediums.  I may never be the world’s greatest at any specific one but I’m certainly the world’s greatest at expressing them as myself. I would venture to say I’m a better me than anyone else could be and you’re probably a better you than anyone else could be. We each express ourselves, our imaginiation and creativity, through a unique combination of  mediums.

          But what does all this have to do with leadership? Sure sure, we’re all unique, we all have things we’re good at and things we aren’t. Leadership is an art… some people are good at that specific medium like mozart was good with music and others are not. It’s a natural gift and we can only augment it so much, others who have more talent for it will always be better. But that’s just it, Ike, for as smart and great a leader as he was, didn’t quite capture what leadership is. Leadership is not an art or the art, leadership simply is art. Leadership is the expression or application of imagination and creativity. It isn’t the canvass on which we paint, it’s the action of painting itself. Leadership is that first step where you move from the privacy of one’s self to the public realm. It’s the sharing of an idea, good or bad, with more than yourself. One of my favorite poems comes from Marianne Williamson, it goes:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

That is a true expression of leadership. It is not simply courage, thought the two are often conflated. Rather it is, as Williamson says, the liberation from our own fear that automatically liberates others. That is art. Not a type or subset, but art as a whole. Ideas that allow us to unconsciously liberate our own creativity and imagination. Let’s look back again at the D.C. trip. Susan Eisenhower pursued goals that others felt were impossible through ideas few understood. She expressed her creativity and imagination in a way that allowed others to follow in her footsteps and do the same. Leadership is art. The leaders of congress we looked at each used their unique abilities to bring together coalitions of men under the same idea to pass new laws which would better America. Leadership is art. Dr. King and President Lincoln both fought battles to establish and preserve the ideal that all men are created equal and through their efforts allowed others to see and believe in that prescription. Leadership is art.

So go and lead. Liberate yourself from your own fear and be yourself. Allow others to see the ideas you put forth and liberate themselves as well. Don’t be afraid of new concepts or conflicts. Embrace them with an openess that inspires all those around you to do the same. Use your creativity and imagination to spread ideas and concepts. Be the best you possible. Make art. Leadership is art.

Leadership Institute D.C Trip

When I initially made the decision to participate in the Leadership Institute, I had no idea that we would have so many amazing opportunities and experiences. The trip with the LI to Washington D.C.  was an experience that I will never forget because we got the opportunity to meet Susan Eisenhower, the grand daughter of President Eisenhower. Prior to our meeting, I was feeling extremely lost and unsure of myself in regards to my stance on civil rights and social justice issues. Throughout my experiences at Gettysburg College, I have often felt alienated and excluded from the campus environment because of the fact that I am of the minority. Recently, I have been making great attempts to step out of my comfort zone and come out of my shell in order to initiate change within myself, as well as this institution.  However, I find it extremely difficult to alter my peers’ perspectives and attitudes regarding social justice issues because I feel like they honestly do not care. How do you gain more support/ followers? How do you get more people to care about the same issues that matter most to you?

During our meeting with Susan Eisenhower, we were able to get a great deal of advice on being leaders in today’s society. She informed us about her various positions of leadership when working with the intelligence unit of the Soviet Union. She also described her work  with the CIA and shared some knowledge about U.S and Russian defense strategies. I found it interesting that her and President Eisenhower engaged in similar careers that consisted of war and defense strategies. From the way she described her career and recounted these experiences, we could really tell that Susan was extremely passionate about her previous work.

The most important thing that I took away from the discussion was that leaders should act on things in which they have control over. For instance, Eisenhower was able to allow White and Black soldiers to fight shoulder to shoulder because he was in charge of his unit of fighters. He was able to initiate a significant change within an arena that he had control over, which was a very defining moment in the civil rights movement. When Susan provided us with this piece of advice, it really stuck with me. It made me think about my current situation at Gettysburg College and my stance on social justice issues. Essentially, I came to the realization that I may not have the power to get everyone on campus to care about civil rights and social justice issues; but, I do have the ability to make an impression on my peers and raise more awareness about these issues. After Susan left, we lightly reflected on this issue and I was surprised to hear how different members of the LI have been sharing various things that they have learned throughout the semester with their friends and peer groups. When I heard this, I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement because I realized that all of us in the LI care about these issues and that we have been altering perceptions on these issues. Overall, I was delighted to know that change is possible at Gettysburg College and that actions are currently taking place.

-Monae Evans

“Leadership is over-glorified”

What? Leadership is over-gloried?

Before our lunch meeting today, the Leadership Institute watched a TED Talk by Derek Sivers on “How to start a movement.” I would assume that this would be an hour-long presentation, however, he does it in only 3 minutes. Sivers centers his talk on a video of a lone, shirtless dancer at a concert – just him, dancing alone, shirtless, and dozens of other people just watching him. Despite being the lone dancer, he doesn’t stop. Eventually the lone dancer is joined with another audience member who also dances with him. As time progress, more and more people are having the guts to join this lone dancer and partner, and at this point, it is just a huge party of dancers. Saw that? That lone dancer started a movement.

Skivers then talks about the lesson here: leadership is over-glorified. While we could commend the lone dancer for starting this movement, it was the first follower that transformed the lone dancer into a leader. He then says, “If you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow and show others how to follow… If you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first one to stand and join in.” The LI had a pretty good discussion on what we thought about this video and explored the concept of being the “follower” rather than the “leader.” Most of us are enrolled in the Li so we could build our leadership skills, but it would seem like the first step for most of us to become great leaders is to become a follower who follows an initiative that we find worth standing for and inspiring others to follow us. So, another question is: Is it the leader that start change or the follower?

All of us would want to make social change, but saying that we want social change is so much easier to say than actually doing it. In other words, making social change is scary. We would need to work really hard on convincing others. We would need to step out of our comfort zone. We would need to put ourselves in front of others and do things that people may think is crazy. As challenging as it can be, we can easily make social change — through our friends. For some of us, I do not think anyone would be comfortable to dance alone in the middle of Stine Lake, however, we could easily start a conversation amongst our friends, the people who we are comfortable with. Basically, change happens within our circles. Pick an initaitve, whether it is promoting inclusion on-campus or becoming more aware of LGBTQ issues, start a conversation, and start a movement. Easy, right?

Beside that, the LI needed to collectively decide on what group project we would do. It was our chance to make social change on Gettysburg College campus. Many ideas were tossed around: improving diversity on Gettysburg Campus by creating a professional task force that would reach our to majority-minority communities and make them aware of college, promoting community involvement, and improving the intergretion and inclusiveness of International Students into the Gettysburg College community through restructuring the first-year experience. In all the project ideas, it seems like the trend occuring is that we would like to improve the sense of community. A few other ideas that came in were working together, as in the entire campus, to break a world record!

All the ideas sounded great, but we haven’t reached a consensus. We’ll let you know what we decide on!

– Rex Yin ’14

Leadership Lunch- 4/4/13

This lunch was centered around an article Professor Hancock wrote for “HuffPost: Black Voices” called “Emancipation Proclamation and Realizing MLK Dream” and a response to said article Prof. Hancock received.




So the question became: how does one approach this woman and enlighten her to the deeper issues Hancock’s article highlights? Her statistics are correct, some of her points hold true, but her approach is wrong. It’s too superficial.

The members of Garthwait, in addition to Prof.Hancock, Prof. Cavin, and a few other educated persons, began to discuss why Prof. Hancock’s article is so relevant, even today, and why these issues are still present, 150 years after the Civil War. One issue we talked about was poverty and it’s relation to crime rates. Does being poor mean one a criminal? Absolutely not. Does being poor or living in an area of poverty make one more susceptible to crime? That remains a little more difficult to answer. One the one hand, some people claim poor people have more potential to commit crimes out of desperation, but on the other hand (which we pointed out during our discussion) poor people are caught more frequently than privileged people because they are constantly surveyed by authorities. In this way, they’re sort of set up for higher rates of crime compared to higher classes because they’re targeted.   

We then went on to talk about the pro’s and con’s of Public Housing. Due to policies enacted by the federal government during the 1930’s, 60’s, and 80’s, low-income properties were destined to be torn-down in order to make room for affordable housing, displacing the communities that were already there. Public Housing, in theory, was to encourage better living for the poor, to mix various income households in one area, and to reduce crime and drug rates. Though the idea was admirable, “public housing increasingly became the housing of last resort. In many cities, housing projects suffered from mismanagement and high vacancy rates. Furthermore, housing projects have also been seen to greatly increase concentrated poverty in a community, leading to several negative externalties.”

We discussed how Public Housing encouraged cycles detrimental the poor. Once people gained more money, they would move out of the projects and buy a single home. To encourage people to live in the projects, the landlords reduced their qualifications for someone to live there. As qualifications lowered (i.e. income, employment, family-unit), projects became the place for the poorest of the poor. Once this happened, private investors and government funding pulled out because a good enough profit was not being made and the risks of investment became too high. As those who encouraged the projects began to abandon their work, Public Housing, physically and socially, quickly began to deteriorate.

Because of this cycle, people (such as the woman who responded to Prof. Hancock) see those living in the projects, who are namely African-Americans, as lazy, uneducated, and un-willing to better themselves. But if one is raised in a cycle such as this wherein, from the star,t there is little encouragement from the community and the government to further one’s life, why would they?

This brought us to the crux of the discussion: can you hold society just as responsible as we hold an individual?  People are responsible for his/her actions, of course, but the nature of one’s surroundings can limit one’s choices and opportunities and affect his/her overall actions.

So, where does one draw the line between an individual’s responsibility and the responsibility of society?

March 21 Lunch

This week the group met for our regular lunch sessions, but we were lucky enough to have a guest speaker Susan Russell who works in the Theater department at Gettysburg College and also grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and attended Central High School. She came to talk to us about what it was like growing up in Little Rock. Her upbringing was very normal, she explained, and she never felt that she lived in an extremely racist city. She told us that the first time she ever knew what that her town was special was when she was reading a book about South Africa. The book said something along the lines of, “well yes the racism in South Africa is bad but you guys in America have Little Rock, Arkansas.” She said she couldn’t believe it, her town was known around the world as being racist. To a young child that was really upsetting, she said she didn’t even tell anyone about reading that she was almost embarrassed. 

Susan went on to explain that attending Central High School was a wonderful experience. She talked about how growing up in the South you know that racism exists and no one tries to cover it up. I think the whole group found that point very interesting because being from the North we tend to ignore racial issues hoping they will just go away. But, because the South has had such an ugly and obvious history of racism they have gone through somewhat of a rehabilitation process. In the South today there is still racism but, as Susan said, it is almost more comfortable because it is out in the open. Meanwhile in the North there are underlying race issues that no one addresses so they cannot be resolved.

We were so lucky to have Susan Russell come talk to us because I think we tend to forget the Little Rock, Arkansas is just a normal town. She had a very normal upbringing and she kept emphasizing how rich she feels, she went to an extremely diverse school and got to learn so much about African American history. She felt rich from the education she got from Central High School. Sometimes we forget that within history there are people. Little Rock is world renowned for the events at Central High School but it is also just a normal American town. It was really exciting to get to talk to someone who grew up in Little Rock and I think I can speak for the whole group when I say that it made us all even more excited for our trip. 


GLC Lunch March 7, 2013

A lot was covered during this lunch before the college’s spring break. 

First we discussed SMART goal setting.  This is a strategy that helps you achieve goals you set. The acronym stands for different characteristics your goal should have: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  By following this criteria it becomes much easier to set and reach personal goals.  

Next we revisited the “8 C’s of Change” from the Social Change Model of Leadership Development.  This model has different qualities that should be present at the individual level (consciousness of self, congeunce, commitment), the group level (colaboration, common purpose, and controversy with civility, and at the societal level ( citizenship) which all ultimately lead to change towards the common good.  After reviewing each characteristic, we were given 8 different quotes from famous leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  After breaking into small groups we worked together to match the quotes to their corresponding “C”.  This excercise was useful because the quotes gave further descriptions and examples to the words.  

Each GLC member also set a personal goal.  We received our results from the “Socially Responsible Leadership Scale”  which was a survey whose statements corresponded to the 8 C’s of change.  Each “C” had an average score from our answers from 1-5 (5 being strongest).  Everyone examined their individual results and noted our weakest “C” where we received the lowest score, as well as the highest. We discussed why we had gotten these results, and some people were surprised at their strengths and weaknesses.  Next with a partner, we shared statements in the survey that matched our strongest and weakest C’s and discussed this.  This segwayed into our final topic of the lunch where we did goal setting,  

Personally, the Responsible leadership scale helped me set my goals. I realized that to improve my congruence, I can hold more conviction to my ideas and not overcompromise in order to avoid conflict.  We applied the SMART technique to our goals and made note of them so we can revisit them at the end of the semester to analyze progress! 

This lunch gave us tools to improve ourselves individually, which will collectively make us more effective at enacting  positive change as a group.