Polar Plunge

Finally!

I have always wanted to be a part of the Polar Plunge LEAD Team and I was finally given the opportunity this year.

I never fancied myself to be great at getting people to give me money (especially not my parents) but somehow I found a way to make this work! To be fair, this is a very worthy cause and it hardly took much convincing to get people to donate money to such an amazing event and cause. Not to mention, this was also the first year I’d be taking the plunge myself so I’m sure it didn’t heart that friends and family got to see me go for a freezing cold swim.

When I say this event felt somewhat electrifying, I don’t just mean that I was shocked by the freezing cold water. This was the first time in Mount Pleasant that I really saw the best of campus and community coming together. I talked with so many life-long locals who felt so passionately for Special Olympics and being there for each other and in support of the Special Olympics Michigan headquarters.

Although I may not be on the LEAD Team for polar plunge next year, I know I am coming back to jump and I am going to raise at least $100 more dollars than I did this year.

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RSO: (Registered Student Organization or Real Sick Opportunities?)

I want to say I am sorry for the title.

I’m really not that sorry though, just think about it.

Every Friday night I meet in the lobby of my old dorm hall with anywhere from 10 to 45 people who have come to play games. It can range anywhere from Taboo to Settlers of Catan and from Family Feud to Super Smash Bros. We plan special event nights that include a barbecue, volleyball at the Student Activity Center, going to the casino, a euchre tournament, and many others.  There are no try outs or skills required to join. It’s suggested that you really like board games and games of other sorts but you could even learn to love them if you’re looking for new things to do. We go for hours on end switching from game to game with a technique we named “game islands”.

This has been the largest Classic Games Club year yet. One night, we even had over 60 people come through to play games with us.

The easygoing atmosphere and friendliness was immediately offered to me and I started telling everyone to check this club out. I have had a couple friends here and there already come play games with us which is why I decided to run for the publicity chair. Several people ran and now my pal Corey and I are co-chairs. I created a Classic Game Club Instagram that we run and I bought tons of chalk to mark up the sidewalks around campus. After talking with our treasurer, it sounds like I’ll even be able to get some t-shirts in the works for my senior year.

I also joined a NEW RSO this year. Running Club! Yeah, I’m a little crazy if I enjoy running. But it’s one of the best ways to clear my head and get my frustrations out without wasting money at the bars too often–a much healthier choice. However, I was pretty bummed that I had to spend much of my time shouting support to my friend Nino instead of actually running on the track because I had a small tear in my meniscus. But, with all the connections I made on the team, I immediately felt like I had 30 new friends. I even came up with a running schedule for myself over the summer in which I get to run with several of these new friends every week and that’s amazing. They were truly so accepting of me and supportive of getting over my injury.

School Year in Service

When your passions and goals happen to align perfectly with a service you are able to freely give to people (or animals) who seek them out, it almost feels more selfish than selfless.

That’s how I have felt about any instances of volunteering my time during this passed school year.

I have been a martial artist since the age of four. I don’t remember much other than that I needed to keep progressing in any style I could. Now, at the age of 21, I still feel the same way. The main difference in four-year-old Kalie the one that exists now is that other people have deemed me knowledgeable in matters of self-defense to teach them. I’ve written countless times about how amazing it feels to offer this knowledge to people but this year involved something new. I was asked by several individuals to teach them techniques throughout the year. I was more than happy to be able to practice while also sharing things that I think everyone should familiarize themselves with.

As much as I loved helping people help themselves in this way, I think the highlight of teaching this year had to be when my old roommate, Pattalina, asked me to teach a full on seminar here at CMU for the Sigma Kappa ladies. Of course, I had taught seminars before and made decent money. However, as soon as Pat contacted me I knew this seminar was priceless. It was my first real class size (although there was way more than a few of them) that I was teaching in Mount Pleasant. On top of that, it was a large respected organization affiliated with the school. The opportunity to take such a large step in overlapping my future with my passion was amazing and all of those young ladies had great energy and were very gracious.

My second way to spend my time this year consisted of the Running Buddies program for walking or running with shelter dogs to keep them happy, healthy, and socialized. I have to admit though–this may be considered volunteering I can pretty confidently say all the buddies do this mostly for themselves. Even though any dog could easily steal my heart, I made a great connection with a very energetic mix named Hank. He had the biggest smile a dog could smile and was unable to contain his excitement (pure energy) to get out on the town for a bit. Riley and I picked him up and he immediately left his designated spot in the back seat and established a place on my lap. Just to put this into perspective, Hank was full grown (NOT lap dog size) and took up far more surface area than what my lap could offer. He gave us lots of kisses and hugs until we could finally wear him out by taking him all over campus. He even had a special stop at the LI to water the flowers (sorry everyone).

And since I know some of my readers will want this: here is a link for learning more about being a volunteer for Humane Animal Treatment Society-  http://www.hatsweb.org/volunteer  🙂

Skills as Service

Most of my volunteer experiences this year happen to occur back in my home town while I was on a break or just away for a weekend. I actually went home very often this year in comparisons to last and I think it had a lot to do with people asking me to share my knowledge of martial arts and self-defense.

First, I was asked to come teach a very simplified self-defense seminar at Planet Kids Premier Academy. I spent my Friday afternoon teaching small children about stranger danger, how to stay away from dangerous people and places, and a few easy techniques for getting away from an attacker. It took a lot of patience and answering tons of questions before their brains and tiny little hands could grasp the concepts I had to teach. After the hard work was over, I got out the foam swords so they could feel like the big kids playing games in the real karate classes. They went crazy over the small matches they acted out and didn’t want that part to end. By the end of our time together that day, many of the children were grasping at my legs begging me not to leave. I never cease to be amazed by the endless amount of love and appreciation small children have shown me for doing something I find so normal.

A few weeks later as the weather began to grow cold in the fall, I returned home for a similar reason. Only this time, my students were on the opposite end of the age spectrum. I was asked to go to Auburn Hills at 7am on a Thursday Morning to teach a very different side of self defense to the members of the Optimist Club.  The truth about being older and living in a city is that people won’t really be looking out for you. In fact, the elderly are targeted often as easy to steal from. So for this lesson, we had to learn more self defense against weapons and life-threatening aggressors.

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The Optimist Club provides a framed copy of their creed to anyone that volunteers their times with them.

On the upside of waking up early and teaching serious material, I was given free breakfast and conversations that lasted long after the lesson on martial arts was over. I also got to witness how adorable it is when really old people sing a special version of the Happy Birthday song to a friend. And finally, it was great to experience a new age range to teach to. I wont be stopping any time soon so I can hope for more experience and bigger crowds.

Sociology: What’s my Role in Society and can I do better?

When I was younger, I wore my big brother’s old clothes to school. They were mostly baggy, they had more zippers and pockets than the girl’s clothes, and had some pretty cool graphics on them. I would always tell everyone that those clothes were so comfy. And they were–I was always itchy, uptight, and aggravated in most of my girly clothes. That’s the way I wanted to dress sometimes–and my parents let me.

When I was younger, I had a best friend named Josh. He was nice and liked to play with the same toys I did in kindergarten. We built things with blocks and once they were high enough–all the way over our heads–we’d knock them down like Godzilla with crowded cities. My other two closest friends were twin brothers, Nickolas and Cameron. I always hung out with these young boys and all my neighbors who were overwhelmingly boys–and my parents let me.

When I was younger, I wanted to go to football and lacrosse day camps. I turned out to be the only girl to participate in either, but that’s something that I didn’t notice at the time. I ran as fast as I could, stayed as alert as possible to never miss a pass, and always did all the exercises. I was put into karate classes at the age of four. There were only a couple other girls who practiced at that dojo and they were older than me. Everyday I went to karate, I never questioned that I was going to be one of the best students. My older brother and I did many of the same activities growing up–and my parents let me.upnorth

When I was younger, I spent my years growing up outside in the woods before dinner. My neighbors made sticks into weapons with my brother and I to fight off imaginary intruders and evildoers. We’d get spots of dirt on our clothes and spots of poison ivy on our skin. If we got hurt, we’d help each other to get back inside and clean up. I came in the house smelling of soil and grass–and my parents let me.

When I was younger, I started middle school, where I learned how to make new friends. I started realizing that I had a lot in common with many of the girls in my grade. I had  sleep overs with them and even had a best friend that was a girl from elementary school all the way up to sometime in high school. I started going shopping for clothes that fit me well and used purses instead of pockets. I used the makeup that I thought looked good on the other girls–and my parents let me.

When I was younger, I started to see that the little boys were growing up from punching-bag-play-mates to young men I’d daydream of holding hands with. I made more friends that were girls who tried to help me talk to boys nicely about things like feelings. I remain that same child that spars hard in karate and isn’t afraid to get dirty outdoors, but I have grown into a young woman that practices a more nurturing attitude and values softness and elegance–and my parents let me.

My parents taught me enough to let me make decisions as I grew up.

An issue that has resulted from large portions of the population’s actions in parenting, is that of their children starting to feel restricted by the norms of gender identity. If a child identifies as a girl, does that mean that they must only play with the toys sold in the pink packaging? Do they have to play house rather than learn how to throw a baseball? If a child identifies as a young boy, does that mean they automatically have to be athletic? Do they have to aspire to be a part of life-threatening careers at a young age? Of course they don’t. What seems to be the problem is that parents, caretakers, relatives, and friends alike automatically expect certain behaviors based off of one’s expressed identity.

It’s clear that we, as individuals, have the autonomy to decide how masculine and how feminine we behave every day. What isn’t clear is how society will treat a person for acting more feminine or more masculine than everyone else would expect. Sometimes the reactions of society are so extreme that no matter how autonomous we may or may not feel in our self-expression, the people around us can slowly push us to expressing and acting on feelings or urges we may not have within ourselves.

I am Kalie. I go to Central Michigan University to study communication, leadership, and psychology. I spend my free time practicing archery and martial arts, working out, hiking mountains, painting or writing, analyzing music, playing board games and video games, and dancing. I don’t always act the way people expect me to. I am lucky enough to have been raised to not allow many restrictions that come along with identifying as a woman affect me on a daily bases.

If you are interested in how some people or places plan to get rid of some of the negative effects of gender roles and expectations, or if you are curious about what might be right for raising a child in today’s society, you can visit these sources:

about Sweden’s Gender-neutral Preschool: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-14038419 

men and boys challenging the dynamics of personal and professional gender roles for equality: https://www.un.org/press/en/2015/wom2031.doc.htm

A Celebratory LEAD Team

I previously posted about being on something called a LEAD Team. Last year I participated in something called Spot Light which highlighted members of the leadership community on campus and other leadership events around campus After being a member of a lead team that didn’t have great communication or regular updates within our team, I wanted to become a chair in order to ensure at least one lead team would have better communication and positive participation.

I was given the position to be a co-chair of our team that puts on Grad Ball for our graduating LAS members. Because we are in charge of planing a serious event rather than doing periodic work throughout the year, it was very different for me. Luckily, my co-chair was a veteran of the Grad Ball team. We separated our tasks as leaders of this team by communication, logistics, and other miscellaneous tasks. I was in charge of making sure that everyone knew what was going on, when meetings would take place, where, and why we were having our meetings. We made sure that each time we met there were clear goals for the night. We didn’t meat when there was just simple information to share, when we didn’t feel that there was enough work for everyone to do, or when we just needed to remind our team members of something.

Amanda, my co-chair, was an amazing. I was asking so many questions all the time. She was so patient. She understood that I was on a very different type of LEAD team previously and this was my first time being a chair. She took care of most of the budget issues and gave me more hands on tasks which fit my experience quite nicely.

Grad Ball is coming up. We are crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s in the next week to ensure we are ready to go. We have separate committees within our team to make sure that details are taken care of efficiently so things should go smoothly the day of! For now I will post a happy picture from last year’s grad ball. In a week or so I will add pictures from a cute photo booth area I am currently working on and comment on how the night goes. Fingers crossed! gradball

What is Communication to a Leader?

Everything.

I may be bias in the sense that I am a Communication major with a minor in Leadership and (recently added) psychology.

Our words and our actions communicate to others whether we intend it or not. Leaders have to do what is right, do it the right way, and explain it the right way. There are wrong ways to talk about things but there are an infinite number of other ways to go about something with each way giving a different impression. Every single word used, the way you say the words, and how you look and move when you say them all contribute to the messages you send to other people. As leaders, people will be exceptionally critical of our communication skills–and rightfully so.

A leader is someone who has some extent of power or more influence than those around them. Our words and actions directly affect those around us as it is. When you are leading, however, those stakes increase and we now have more of an effect on how people around us feel and behave. It all starts with what we communicate.

I firmly believe that we wouldn’t be able to study leadership if we couldn’t understand effective communication. Communication can exist without leadership but leadership cannot exist without communication. Once that is established you’ll see that effective communication doesn’t exist without leadership qualities. They are very interdependent. The Communication in Leadership (COM461) class is so important for these reasons. For those of us going into STEM based careers, there is still no way to avoid communication and if we want to be effective leaders, we must be effective communicators. I see the study of communication as something that can never stop. Words and behaviors are always evolving and are endlessly malleable. What is vernacular will always be relative to what else is going on.

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Before our exams in COM461 we would play a competitive review game that my team happen to win for our final exam review.

Professor Carlson is truly amazing. Although her teaching style isn’t always the best for everyone, I hang on her every word during lecture. From the way she speaks to us, it is clear that she still finds the study of communication extremely interesting. She strives to ignite any interest we may have by asking many thought provoking questions every time our class meets. She incorporates different mediums of study tools to keep things interesting. She ties in important real world experiences to ensure that we aren’t just memorizing terms and studies but that we are visualizing and applying them on our own.

This class will certainly stick with me as I continue further down the rabbit hole of the societal-questioning, experimental, ever-changing studies that include communication in leadership.

Clubbin’

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At CMU there are nearly 400 registered student organizations (RSO’s).

“Build confidence, your résumé, leadership skills and a new worldview by joining a CMU student group.” –CMU Student Organizations.

People typically stick to what they know, who they are comfortable with, and don’t push themselves too hard. Here at school, I say there are many reasons to throw those values to the wind and join any club that sounds interesting to you.

Effects of joining an RSO may include but are not limited to:

  • meeting new people
  • increased positivity in your everyday life
  • mental and physical activity
  • professional and personal development
  • time management skills

I first joined the Infusion Dance Team. We are completely student run without any choreography help from faculty or staff here. We are very proud of how well we organize ourselves and perform. For events like the Homecoming Parade, Siblings Weekend, some basketball half-time shows, and Relay for Life, we come up with songs and choreography that fits our skills and is fitting to the event. Our organization doesn’t compete against dance clubs from other schools and we stay on campus for all of our practices and performances.

Coming out of high school, I was a mediocre dancer at best. I learned and executed what skills I considered the minimum for qualifying me to be a dancer. But, bless my soul, I really love to dance. So I decided that I didn’t want it to end with my high school graduation. I searched for the right dance club to join which was surprisingly difficult. There are several here on campus so I had to really look into which team would be a great fit for me. Infusion Dance Team focuses on self and team improvement, a positive place to escape from school/work/other responsibilities, and a group to find friends among dancers. Try outs were nerve racking and challenging so I feel blessed to have made the cut. However, the experience of being on the team is much different. We offer each other so much as far as new skills and tips to improve old ones, that I feel like I could easily learn new things whenever I think I’m ready. It’s a great club for improving myself without feeling the pressure of a competitive team.

Secondly, I joined the Classic Games Club here at central. Another completely student run group, this club’s main purposes include recreation, relaxation, and fun. Every Friday night we meet in the lobby of my building to play all sorts of games. It can range anywhere from Taboo to Settlers of Catan and from Family Feud to Mortal Kombat. We plan special event nights that include a barbecue, volleyball at the Student Activity Center, going to the casino, a euchre tournament, and many others.  There are no try outs or skills required to join. It’s suggested that you really like board games and games of other sorts but you could even learn to love them if you’re looking for new things to do. We go for hours on end switching from game to game. Everyone has been more than welcoming.

The easygoing atmosphere and friendliness was immediately offered to me and I started telling everyone to check this club out. I have had a couple friends here and there already come play games with us which is why I decided to run for the publicity chair. Several people ran and now my pal Cameron and I are co-chairs. I created a Classic Game Club Instagram that we run and I bought tons of chalk to mark up the sidewalks around campus–unfortunately spring semester weather isn’t exactly conducive to writing with chalk on the sidewalk most of the time so that will take place more in the upcoming fall semester.

Over the summer, I have plenty of people to play games with and time to stretch and be ready to dance again in the fall. I chose these organizations not only for the benefits that come along with being in an RSO but because these activities are already part of who I am and will likely remain to be for as longs as possible.

HST 110 L

HST110L

It’s that one ‘L’ on the end of the class title that makes the big difference.

When I was in high school, I took advanced placement US history. I learned far more information about the American past that I will probably ever need to know. So many years, plans, names, and acts memorized and yet I didn’t learn a lot.

In HST110L we had to memorize many of those things over again. The main difference between an American history class strictly about the facts and one that focuses on the leaders and their leadership styles through history, is that we learn a ton more. And not just about American history, but we learned about leadership throughout the country and within ourselves. mlk

We carefully analyzed some of history’s greatest leaders and what made them leave such prominent legacies. We did this by being assigned reading and plenty of papers to write. I could complain for days about the work load, but I honestly appreciate the work we did. Sure, it was pretty stressful. However, I am pretty proud of the papers that I wrote in that class.

It all worked up to the second to last assignment that we had. We were asked to write 10 to 12 pages on a leader of our choosing and how they affected American culture. I chose, obviously, Bruce Lee. I already knew a lot about Bruce Lee to begin with so I was exctied to write this paper. After doing the research and reading books, I grew more and more interested as I wrote the paper. This paper not only pushed me harder than any paper had before, but it let me into more inspiring details of Bruce Lee’s life.

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