The August session of EFLI’s Activating Leadership program began on August 4th with a whole new group of participants! Additional Offerings (AO), an ongoing EFLI summer program, also began a new two week session, Affecting Change. The first day was filled with excitement and new friends, and we are all so excited for the next two weeks together.
The first group activity was a name tag creation station! In addition to the numerous name games we played throughout the day, each participant had the opportunity to express herself creatively as soon as she arrived, making her own name tag using various materials to wear throughout the day. Materials included pom-poms, pipe cleaners, markers, stickers and patterned papers.
Following name tags, we gathered in the main space to do a group rhythm exercise with Delaine, one of EFLI's lead facilitators. In the exercise, participants create a rhythm using their bodies. The group then splits into two, and one person per group leads their group in rhythm. Once everyone knows the rhythm, the two are performed together, creating a human body chorus. After the rhythm exercise we went around in a circle and everyone shared her name and what program she was in, a fun fact, and the answer to the question “where are you coming from?” Participants then each shared a passion through mime, and the group guessed what it was.
Once we finished the rhythm and name games, our facilitators shared more about the EFLI philosophy and why we do what we do. Antoinette, Program Director, spoke about the background of EFLI, Eileen Fisher’s involvement in the program, and why the program is important to her personally. The other facilitators described the various workshops that are available for the next two weeks—Storytelling with Alanna, Hashtag Selfie: Social Media and Confidence with Jado and Emily, Raqs Sharqi with Heather, and Craftworks with Carolina. Workshops were chosen, we played more name games, and then it was time for lunch! Heidi, EFLI's in-house chef, made us awesome chili that she served with rice and cornbread.
The theme of the day for Activating Leadership was “visualizing a leader." After lunch we had a group discussion about what it means to be a leader and what leadership means to each of us. We then did an exercise to visualize our ideal leader. Participants worked in pairs and each received a body part (like arms, legs, head, etc.) made out of cardboard. Each body part had corresponding leadership traits. Pairs then discussed their body part and the leadership skills it represented. Using arts and crafts materials, they represented how their ideal leader would embody those traits by decorating their cardboard body part. As each group shared what they had made, we as a group determined what kind of leader our ideal leader would be. We decided that our ideal leader would be genderless, timeless, and without a name so that the person could choose their own name. After the exercise we took some time to journal individually about our own definitions of leadership.
After journalling, Activating Leadership participated in a Skillbuilder Marketplace in the Maker's Space. There were two Green Eileen upcycling workshops and a community garland-making project. Participants chose which craft she was most interested in. Everyone had the opportunity to move from their head to their hands in these workshops, and we discussed the importance of creativity in good leadership and why activities that involve the use of your hands are important.
After the workshops we headed over to the EILEEN FISHER offices to speak with Cheryl Campbell, Managing Director of the Eileen Fisher Community Foundation. Cheryl led us on a tour and shared more information about who Eileen Fisher is and what kind of company she created. We stayed at EILEEN FISHER for our Closing Circle. Everyone went around and shared highs and lows of the day, but many participants couldn't think of a low! All in all, it was an incredible first day, and we can’t wait to spend the next two weeks learning and finding inspiration with one another!