Thursday, September 21, 2006

Team M-S-H-A

Over the past two weeks, I have been immersed (pun intended) in work with the MSHA team and in meeting and learning from Mike Rutledge (State Dept. of WV) and Will Peretino and Courtney Cox of Workforce Connections. On Monday, all of us learned some valuable research skills at a workshop we attended in the library. I feel like there is a lot being thrown at us, a lot of different things, but it's keeping things stimulating and interesting.

Last week Neeta Catterton tested our team using Myers-Briggs. This was the first time I'd undertaken such an evaluation; turns out I'm an ENFJ (Extravert iNtuitive Feeling Judging) type. It shows just how far I've grown over the past 6 or 7 years...when I was a kid, I was shy and introverted and kept quiet. (Not that all introverts are shy...but I exhibited characteristics of someone both shy and introverted.) Now...well, people have to tell me to shut up! But I definitely exhibit some of the introverted "characteristics," such as the fact that I NEED quiet to concentrate on my work. But for the most part the test was pretty on the mark, especially the Judging type -- I follow a schedule and thrive on structure in my life. I create lists for everything, and am (unless times are super busy!) extremely organized with my school work. It was neat to get our team's profile and discuss our team dynamics -- I feel that everyone is getting along well and has great ideas, but there is just so much to this project and we keep thinking of new things to add/change/question/think about. The past 5 Immersion days have delivered the skills and inspiration to do what we need to get done. The next 12 weeks will include a little of that, and a lot of mining research, thinking, implementing, and web development. And we're ready.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jumping In

Before I dive into talking about what I'm learning, I want to reflect on my time as an Immersion student over the past two weeks. I am so grateful to be here, and I know that I am definitely in the right place. I truly enjoy learning, leanring about learning, and learning about technology, and Immersion combines all three while giving me a classroom-based but real-world impacting project experience. Overall, I'm psyched about the program, my team, and our skills/knowledge/energy level toward the MSHA project.

One of the most valuable, practical topics discussed in Immersion Practicum was talked about today -- the topic of conflict. Conflict is inevitable, as much as we want to ignore or avoid it, and Dr. Clark mentioned a previous year's Immersion group who'd managed to avoid conflict until December of their fall semester, after which things...blew...up. I tend to be a peacemaking and peacekeeping person, and do not enjoy catalyzing conflict or making people angry at me or each other. In Life Outside Immersion, I recently had weekend away from Northern VA visiting a friend where absolutely everything went wrong, mostly due to poor planning on both my part and my friend's part. It would have been easy to overlook all the mishaps in an attempt to keep the peace and just move on, but what happens the next time things don't go right? Hiding behind frustration with a smile on my face would be dishonest, and the next visit would probably be equally poorly planned, which wouldn't really solve anything anyway. So I stood up and calmly and non-insultingly voiced my concerns, as well suggested ways things could have been done differently and planned better on both of our parts. You know what? Our level and depth of communication was improved, and my friend thoroughly appreciated my honesty and candor. We both were able to discern our mistakes in a mature way, and my friend was happy that I was comfortable enough to bring up a subject that could spark a conflict.

This is the type of value that I want to constantly strive for in my team-based Immersion experience.