Saturday, June 24, 2006

Concluding LeaderShape '06

The week is finishing out in extraordinary ways. The LeaderShape Revue tonight was one of the most heart-felt and hilarious of any I've every seen. All five Family Clusters had very fun skits that captured all sorts of moments nad memories from the week. It was very clear that all students have enjoyed the week and that the experience has been very good for them.

I met with the native student participants this afternoon to hear their suggestions about the future of LeaderShape with tribal colleges. They are very excited about continuing the partnership with LeaderShape but they are asking for modifications in the curriculum that embrace native philosophy and perspectives. The core assumptions of the program are not at odds, just the interpretation of some issues. The biggest point is that native perpsectives are simply not recognized or incorporated into the curriculum. After the discussion, I am convinced that the curriculum must be changed before offering it again for native students.

Star Power had a profound impact on all participants. The simulation seemed not to be having much impact until the latter part of the debriefing. At this point, a white student commented that all any group needed to do was to work hard and that the reward would be advancement and, in essence, the American dream. At first, one of the African American students responded that the comment did not recognize the complexity of American society nor did it recognize the generations of neglect of people of color in the U.S. A native participant followed who more directly addressed the assertion that everyone had opportunity. She said that for 500 years native citizens have been marginalized and pushed into poverty. The result of this is deep deprivation and hopelessness that makes the American dream impossible. She also said that, even as she defended native people, she felt that she betrayed her people by revealing the plight of tribal groups to white and privileged participants. The interaction was profound and brought an evening of struggle and striving, the likes of which I've seldom seen.

The conclusion of the interactions and the journey for us all is that much learning occured. Not without pain and struggle. But learning did occur.

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