Opportunity Knocks

[I wrote a lot of this right after leaving Denver and finally had time to put it together now…]

As some of you know, my research for my Master’s explored the role of appreciative inquiry, artistic expression, and visioning in the pursuit of social justice. Essentially, our reflection at the Women’s Center prompted me to posit that social justice work- while good at the social critique- needs to further explore what we are trying to create in terms of a socially just world, so not to merely take an oppositional approach.

And this is true of me personally: I am far better at deconstruction than I am at creation. I mention this here because my time at advisor training further highlighted this for me.

You see, ThinkImpact’s model is based on the belief in market-based strategies, where I am far more comfortable problematizing the market itself and asking questions of if we can really call our activities “development” (or is it actually a new form of imperialism?) to extend/spread capitalism worldwide.

While I believe in the value of these questions, I am also grateful for one of TI’s principles: “Its about the opportunity, not the challenge.”

With that, I am seeking to see the opportunity for me to learn this summer, to consider the value of the market and agency within it, to believe in the process, and to remain open, suspending my assumptions and biases.

I don’t intend on suspending my critical lens, but experimenting with how I use it, focusing on the opportunities embedded in the problems I am oh-so adept at identifying (and let’s be real, “problematic” is surely on the top 10 list of words I say all of the time).

Something that consistently came up for me during my performance evaluations and reflections at the Women’s Center is my need to improve on my supervisory skills. I am a great advisor, as exploring the developmental areas of students comes quite naturally to me. Yet, the more tangible pieces of supporting students with project management is less strong, as I just sort of assume they have things taken care of, and am still learning to give the level of support and guidance sometimes needed.

Thus, the actual design section of TI (“innovate”) not only poses a philosophical opportunity, but a practical one. I am looking forward to gaining experience in both on-the-ground design work and adequately supporting students in the business and technical pieces of their experience, while still exploring my own understanding of the role of business in our lives.

I also see the opportunity to further incorporate the exploration of social justice in the TI curriculum, which I began this evening with an added session on our social identities.

Lastly, on the student affairs side of things while we train the scholars, I am sitting with how much of this process to share with my students (for transparency, power-sharing, etc.) and how much to represent TI as sort of a united front with the other advisors, and as a leader who has belief in the process we are about to embark on.

So, with some questions and far greater excitement, I jump in to the many opportunities before me :)

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