Quiet Determination in Action

Youth Leadership Conference 2009 Part 1 :)

Posted in Hepatitis B and Liver Cancer by missamyyu on August 11, 2009

Greetings from Hot-lanta!

Currently taking a break in the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia (Shout out to LC!).  I am currently attending the CDC’s 3rd Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media.  AG is presenting on the Jade Ribbon Campaign, and I have a poster presentation on Youth Leadership Conference.  Speaking of Youth Leadership Conference – it was FANTASTIC!!  I had hoped to do daily updates about the exciting things that went on, but alas, each day was full of the many to-do’s and running around.  The students were really great this year, and I was very much impressed with their work on Team Challenges.  The speakers for the conference were also brilliant and super inspiring.  When I get back to the office and am able to pull pictures from the server, I’ll update with brief intros about them and their talks.

I took away quite a bit of things from the conference this year.  One, is that high school students don’t use Twitter.  I didn’t know that!  They claim that it is “stalkerish,” something “old people use,” and it’s useless.  They much rather prefer the Facebook platform since all they really want to know is what their friends are doing.  How interesting!  In fact, you can read about it on Beth Kanter’s blog.  I’m so jazzed that we were highlighted on her blog!  Beth Kanter is one of the leading women in social media technology, so it is an incredible honor to be on her website.  There are even pictures of the students, CL, and me on her Flickr!

I am really indebted to CL for finding Beth’s blog and to BE for making the connection – who knew the world was so small!   I really hope the YLC students take away at least something from her presentation.  I have to admit here that this conference’s theme Web 2.0 was in part, a personal interest that I wanted to expand, and I hope that the students, although perhaps not exactly creators quite yet (well, beyond creating just for their friends), will be able to take what they learned and utilize it in the years to come!

The students came up with some very innovative ideas for social media projects to advance hepatitis B and liver cancer awareness, and I’m looking forward to actually incorporating a lot of their ideas.  This year, many of the ideas are definitely scalable and usable, and I can’t wait to get back in the office to think how to incorporate them into the ALC’s social media / communication plan.    We’ll be  posting up their final presentations on the ALC website soon, so make sure to check it out (I’ll let you all know when it’s up).

The Youth Leadership Conference on Asian and Pacific Islander Health is a conference designed to provide high school students from across the nation with the tools and skills to effect change in their communities and to inspire them to take leadership roles; however, I feel that YLC isn’t just a growing experience just for the students – it is a growing experience for the interns, the Jade Ribbon Youth Council, and especially for me.  I sincerely hope that the Team Leaders (ALC interns) and Assistant Team Leaders (JRYC) had a great time with the conference, and came away with an experience that helped them grow into being more confident leaders.  It’s a very different experience learning to guide a team of high school students and trying to inspire morale and expand their minds.  This year, for feedback, I’m really interested in not just what the YLC participants have to say in how we can improve the conference, I really want to hear what our interns and JRYC have to say.

One thing that I learned this conference (among the many things from all the speakers!) comes from an incident that occured during our late-night YLC staff meeting.  This was Thursday evening – the end of the second day of the conference, and everyone was very tired and rather un-energized.  Not to go into details (you can ask me if you wish.  And big props to RN for talking it through with me that night), but what I learned from this experience was that as a leader, I need to really make sure I open up communication between those I’m working with so that they can let me know if anything is going wrong or if they are frustrated about my management.  This year, I put a lot more trust in my interns to run YLC on their own (much more than I did last year since I was green to the whole management thing and to YLC), but that may have put more stress on them and I probably didn’t offer enough guidance.  So, I’m really looking forward to their feedback this year (I made a list of 30 odd questions for them, so I’m hoping I get some constructive responses).  Leadership is all about communication, and a good leader is able to promote and maintain open dialogue between the people who work with him/her.  Michael Chen put it eloquently: in order for a boat to get somewhere, everyone needs to be paddling together, both the leader and the team, in a synergistic manner.  And for that to happen, open communication needs to be established and cultivated.

But how do you critique  something to your direct supervisor?  I will be the first to admit that I haven’t had the most positive thoughts about every project that I do or think the best of the way a boss manages things, but looking back, I should have said something, even if my supervisor didn’t extend that hand.  If I’m frustrated and I don’t tell my boss, then he/she won’t know, and we can’t work together to find an agreeable solution.  I think it’s the responsibility of both parties to reach out to each other. Dialogue only works when both parties are involved.

I know that a lot of my interns often doubt certain aspects of our various projects (and I’m glad they do, because it shows that they are thinking about them!), but feel uncomfortable saying it directly to me.  So, I’m glad they have other staff to speak to about those uncertainties.  I want to be there for them, but I am probably not the best person to talk to, especially since I’m their outreach coordinator.  I am also glad that during YLC, AG, CC, SC, and MB were able to bring the interns snacks, gatorade, and send encouraging text messages to keep morale high.  It’s hard to listen to one person (aka me) yap about what needs to be done and still keep a smile on your face.  I’m realizing more and more, the way that you hold yourself, your facial expressions, etc. all make a huge impact on how the rest of your team acts and responds.

Alright, enough ruminations from me.  Thanks for reading – if you got through all that (and even if you didn’t thanks for reading the portions that you read).  Time to go to another workshop on how to evaluate web 2.0 efforts.

Also, welcome to Club 23, DT.  It was good speaking with you over the phone yesterday.

Yours,
Amy

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