I have a fairly complex job at the University. Some of it involves administrative work. Other parts are programmatic. Much of it is advising both graduate and undergraduate students. One of the most interesting advising roles I have is that of Associated Student Government, Miami's primary student governance group. Advising means being available to Cabinet officers and Senators, attending Cabinet and Senate meetings. All these meetings can sometimes become overwhelming but tonight was a very special time. It was the last Senate meeting I will attend before taking off to Europe. I announced during the officer and committee reports that I would be leaving Sunday and that two graduate students (Matt and Jim) would be standing in on my behalf while I'm gone. The Senate received my announcement very positively and it made me feel great.
In essence, I see my role as one truly of being an advisor. I don't tell ASG what to do and I don't serve as any kind of a control agent. I simply provide advice when asked and I volunteer input if I feel that something is timely. For the most part, I attend, listen, learn, and respond to the needs of students. The reason I approach my role this way is that I believe that student government is not a rehearsal for leadership - it is leadership. If students can gain an experience that convinces them that democracy can work, they just may stay involved for a lifetime. Engaging, taking risks, and learning from mistakes are all a very important part of students' education; out-of-class experiences are as important as in-class when it come to learning. Indeed, sometimes out-of-class teaches more because students tend to take more responsibility and take great risks there.
I am very lucky to be able to advise student government. I hope that some ASGers join me for the journey of the next several weeks. I intend to watch from a distance and I know all will go well.
I'm getting lots of response in Europe. I arrive on Monday afternoon and my first appointment is at the Universite du Luxembourg at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. I teach Tuesday evening for the first time. Another appointment is in the making with a McKinsey consultant in Berlin who uses integral theory in his work. Contacts are likely to yield appointments in Nancy, France, and Trier, Germany, as well.