(video credit: Tony Eng)
The official description of LeaderShape, as detailed by MIT’s Division of Student Life, is as follows:
- MIT LeaderShape is an intensive six-day leadership development experience that takes place over IAP. Participants will be asked to wrestle with such challenging topics as professional ethics, dealing with uncertainty, working within a diverse community while developing skills in areas of problem solving and interpersonal communication. Over the course of the program students will develop a community among their peers, facilitated by MIT faculty & staff cluster leaders and student veterans of the program. LeaderShape takes place at an off-campus retreat site in southern Massachusetts, allowing students the opportunity to fully engage in the leadership experience.
My own description is a little shorter:
- The best six days of my junior year thus far.
Let me elaborate.
Around 1 pm on January 20, I joined ~50 other MIT students and boarded a bus to the Camp Wonderland Conference Center in Sharon, Massachusetts. Cookies greeted us as we walked into the conference center, and we wasted no time in devouring them. This was the first of many times when we ate way more than we should have at LeaderShape 2012.
The six days of LeaderShape are characterized by specific themes:
Day 1: Building Community
Day 2: The Value of One, the Power of All
Day 3: Challenging What Is, Looking to What Could Be
Day 4: Bringing Vision to Reality
Day 5: Living and Leading With Integrity
Day 6: Staying in Action
On day one, we were all split into separate clusters, each with its own faculty facilitator and student co-facilitator. I was lucky enough to have two of the most awesome people ever: Chancellor Eric Grimson and one of my bffls, Kuljot ’13. Together, they helped all of us come up with a vision to change the world and a plan to put that vision into action. They offered their thoughts, their advice, their constructive criticism – making us feel like we could accomplish anything we set our minds to. The week was led by head facilitators, Tracy Purinton (the Associate Director of MIT’s Leadership Center) and Kirk Kolenbrander (the Vice President for Institute Affairs and Secretary of the MIT Corporation), who led a series of interactive exercises and activities throughout the six days. They actively asked for our feedback and tweaked the program to suit our preferences. During mealtimes, all the facilitators sat with the students; it felt surreal to share a meal with both the Chancellor and the VP of MIT.
The last day of LeaderShape also happened to be my birthday, and I couldn’t have picked a better place to celebrate my birthday or better people to celebrate it with. At midnight, the guys at LeaderShape serenaded me with a rendition of “Just the Way You Are”, followed by a brief showering and an awesome dance party. We stayed up till 5 AM playing Mafia and just talking. Later that morning, we came together for the close of LeaderShape: one big family :)
Now that we’re all back on campus, there has been a flurry of Facebook friend requests and a hilarious assortment of Facebook posts and potential dinner/movie plans. The LeaderShape experience was incredible, and I’m thankful for all the wonderful new friends I’ve made. Shout out to LeaderShape 2012: I miss you guys!! ♥