Friday, 15 May 2009

Introduction to Leadership

In the morning, we were having a talk with Dr. Nicholas Barker regarding leadership. Nicholas Barker coordinates leadership education at the East-West Center and is Program Director of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, as well as the Leadership Certificate offered to degree students. Dr. Barker’s leadership research interests include: indigenous models of leadership in the Asia-Pacific; diversity training; negotiation and conflict resolution; visioning, strategic planning, and coaching; transformational leadership; gender and leadership; effective communication; team building and group dynamics; power, influence and ethics; and facilitation and collaborative leadership. Trained as a cultural anthropologist at Cambridge University, he has conducted long-term fieldwork in the Philippines and was formerly on the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at St. Andrews University, Scotland, as well as a Visiting Fellow at Nagoya University, Japan, and the University of the Philippines (Diliman).

At first, Dr. Nick ask us to talk to a partner and tell them about the most successful leadership story in our life. The partner is responsible to listen and ask them into more details and gain as much as possible what is our partner's view on leadership. Then we were asked to identify one word that describe the person's value of leadership. After that, we were having a mock cocktail party and asked to discuss with each other 3 questions that will always be asked in your whole life about leadership, which are:

1. Are leaders born or leaders are made?
2. Was Hitler a leader?
3. Does woman leads differently by a man?

The answers to this questions are varied and depends on how people define leadership. It is recommended to define it based on the leadership values. But again, there is no absolutely right or wrong answer to this questions and we have to continue to develop our answers and arguments as it will continue to be asked for the rest of your life.

The next activity is the decisions and decision-making exercise. We were given a scenario where several people are stranded in an island and there is only a chance to save one person for the time being. All the people that are stranded there have their own needs and importance. So, we have to make a consensus on which person to be saved first and we cannot vote. However, we failed to reach consensus at the end of the discussion. The are several things that can be learned from the exercise and one of it is the people's perception in viewing things. Some are based on values/ethics and more are based on rationale. This exercise shows that reaching consensus is not easy although it is not totally impossible. We always have to continue making decisions even it is the wrong decision. All the decisions cannot satisfy everybody, and someone must sacrifice or compromise even though it is hurting.

Nick was telling on a real story about two friends who went for hiking at the mountain and they are caught in a snow storm and one of them broke his leg. So, his friend decided to lowered him down a cliff using ropes even though they can't see anything down there. The he felt his hands are getting numb he did not know whether his friend is okay or otherwise as he can't see anything. Then he made a hard decision to cut the rope and save himself then he get rescued the next day. We he did not know is his friend has actually survive the fall. He seeks for shelter in a cave after he was drop and stranded there alone with a broken leg. Then he tell himself that he have to make decision to survive so he decided to go further into the cave and climb down using a rope. He just continue moving further and further until he finds a light which shows that there are and exit. He get rescued after them. The survivor tells his story and says that he just have to continue making decision even if it is a wrong decision to survive. This story shows that sometimes we have to make a decision which we does not like to but don't stop making one. Decision-making is not an easy task but we have to decide anyway.

The evening session covers the Action Plans by Ms. Christina Monroe, the USIE coordinator. Today session is more on reflecting on our past and identify the key events or persons that change our view and shape who we are now. It is important to know our past first before we look at our future. So, we have to make an exercise called the river of life, where it represents all the key events in our life and what does all this means. There are several other exercises which reflects on our past. At the end of the program, we are expected to see the future and think of what we want to become afterwards. So, this is the first step in the process.

As usual, after the class has ended, we went for a walk. Today's location: Alamoana. It is a place where the Walmart and the shopping mall is located (I think it is the only shopping mall in Waikiki) They sell branded items here but the place looks like a bus station. Anyway, I have my real food here at last for $11.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Presentation Day and Visit to International Market Place

We've presented some key environmental issues in our respective countries. I was presenting on the Sea East Asia Haze that hit the Malaysia and neighbouring countries almost every year since the 1980s due to forest burning for land clearing in Sumatera. I've included the effects, challenges and latest measures that have just been taken by the ASEAN countries to counter measures the problem.

For the other participants, most of them presented on water based issues such as water contamination and water management in Fiji, coral reef depletion and endangered water species in Malaysia and Fiji, water wastage in Malaysia, environmental friendly polymer technology for testing water, as well as cyanide fishing in Borneo. Other presentation which is quite new to most of the participants is the "Global Dimming" which was caused by the airlines industry. It is claimed to having the same impact as global warming where it increases the temperature on earth. Other topics include the landslide issue in Bukit Antarabangsa, rat invasion in Fiji which threaten the endangered birds, environment from the perpestive of Islam, urban heat island, bird conservation in Fiji and several others. At the end of each presentation we have an intensive discussions from the scientific, political, economy and social perspectives which only open up other question and lead again to another questions. So, we were left with questions looming inside our head which we called as the open loop. After all "Sometimes the questions are more powerful than the answers (Scott)".

At the end of the presentation session, we were divided into groups and asked to categorised each person based on their issues and backgrounds into categories namely the energy, water, air, land and biology. Then we were asked to linked them between those categories which are related to them only to find out it is hard to define and basically it is interelated. Thus, it proved that diversity is important in a team and we need other people from a diverse background to find the best solution, "Wisdom outside of us is greater than the wisdom inside of us".

After the session ended, we headed for Waikiki town centre and went to the International Market Place. Some of the pictures was grabbed from Jonathan and Clara. Thank you. Enjoy the pictures.

New Phrases Learned

"Wisdom outside of us is greater than the wisdom inside of us" meaning the need to open connectivity to gain more knowledge.

The phrase above brings to another concept of "Imperfect Leader" which means someone who is not pretending to be perfect and knows who to get the information from.

"The Wisdom of Crowds (Crowds Sourcing)" means asking a group of people to find the answer which include the 'dumb' turns out to be more accurate than getting the answer from a group of experts.

"Sometimes the questions are more powerful than the answers." -Scott M.

"Your brain likes questions. Its like trying to remember a song you've heard on the radio, you'll rack your brain all day until you find the answer!" -Amber O.

"Open Loop" means questions which are unanswered yet.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Second Day Lessons

Our journey begins in the heart of the central Pacific as we meet in Hawai‘i. The first week of the journey develops a base for the five weeks to follow. The most important elements of this base are the people who will share in the USIE learning journey. As a result, the main focus of the week is to get to know one another.

The day begin with a welcoming dance to welcome us in Honolulu. I have included a short video of the welcoming dance. Thanks to Qistina for the video clip. Enjoy it!

The next activity is the speed dating where we have to get to know each other in about a minute for each individual. It is quite interesting and challenging to develop the questions and create the interest in your partner. At the end of the speed dating, we have a discussions on the techniques of meeting people, and the learning process as well as to observe the bigger pictures of what is actually happening. They are several techniques of developing questions that have been identified from the discussion which are developing a preset questions or developing a chain questions. A preset questions is the questions that you have thought about before the conversation is happening while the chain questions is to develop the questions when you started talking with the person from a topic discussed by the person. So, both people must be genuinely interested in what is being talked about and create an in depth conversation.

Learning about other people and what do they know is essential. Nobody can knows everything and there are always something new to learn from other people. There is this concept called the "blips" which means pieces of information from various sources. The blips usually happens in a conversation where we can hear about new things that we did not know before. So, we have to capture as much as possible the new information from the conversation. Learning is a tiring process especially when we are in a different environment and culture. It takes time for people to adapt and it is actually a process which means it does not happen instantly. Finally, the other key element in the learning process is listening. We have to listen in order to receive the information.

In opening ourselves to the bigger pictures, we have been made to understand the concept of "weak ties". The weak ties is connecting with people who you are not familiar with and do not have a strong ties. They may come from a different background or disciplines. It enables us to get new ideas and different ways of viewing things or perspectives which may be different from our's. So, the key element here is diversity where all of this may happen. We may get the same view and same way of thinking with the people we are comfortable with or in the same discipline, thus minimising the chances for us to learn more. There is also another concept called the "Third Culture" which means the new culture that be created. For example, forming a new NGO which have people coming from different backgrounds and disciplines. They will then create their own culture in the organisation. The third culture can also be defined as people who are trained in one discipline and move to another disicpline.

After the lunch break, we have a talk by Ramsay Taum,Co-Founder of Sustain Hawai‘i & Cultural Advisor to UH Travel Industry Management School. He is a co-facilitator of Sustain Hawai‘i, an action-based, educational non-profit organization dedicated to improving quality of life by balancing present and future social-cultural, ecological, and economic needs. Taum is also a practitioner and instructor of several Native Hawaiian practices, including ho‘oponopono (stress management and conflict resolution), lomi haha (body alignment) and lua (Hawaiian combat/battle art). He is the Director of Community Outreach and lecturer at the UH School of Travel Industry Management. As the founder and managing director of the LEI (Life Enhancement Institute) of the Pacific, LLC, Taum also provides consultancy services aimed at integrating Native Hawaiian host cultural values and principles into contemporary business.

Mr. Ramsay presented to us about the concept of Hawaii from the traditional perceptives of the aborigines. He relates all the elements in Hawaii including the name of Hawaii with the nature as what their ancestors think. He urges the importance to look back at this concept to ensure a sustainable Hawaii and disagrees with what the newcomers (the west) is doing in Hawaii (the unbalanced between development of tourism activities (capitalist), and the actual resources capacity of the island). He compares Hawaii with a life raft which have to survive on it's own due to its geographical location in the middle of nowhere and ask whether we would like to invite more people into the life raft with a limited resources. At the end of his presentation he effectively convince us of the earth as the life raft in the sea of space as Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

We went to Waikiki and the beach in the evening. I've some pictures below.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Are you Mr. Shekabuho?

Something funny happens in the airplane from Singapore to Narita. I was sitting on my seat then a stewardess came and ask "are you Mr. Shekabuho? Did you order a special meal?" And I just, "huh? No, you got the wrong person. Maybe it's him (and I showed towards a Japanese man sitting beside me because i thought it is a Japanese name)." It's not him. Different stewardess ask me 3 times then they searched for Shekabuho everywhere in the cabin. When they cannot find Shekabuho anywhere, they made an announcement then I started thinking, maybe it's me. So, I checked and yes, it's me. It turns out that they have ordered a Muslim meal for me and the Japanase stewardess does not know how to pronounce my name. Anyway, they spell it wrong as ShekAbdHo which confuses the stewardess. Lucky me. It turns out that I am the only one who gets the special meal and the other Muslim participants did not.

Arrival in Hawaii

After so many hours of travelling (not sure how many hours) and transiting through Singapore and Narita, Japan , we've finally arived in Hawaii at 7.05 a.m local time or 1.05 a.m Malaysian time. The date is 10th May 2009, a day late from Malaysia. It is sunny but the breeze is wonderful and cool. I've checked in my room at "Hale Manoa" on the 9th floor then get to know more about the EWC housing from Hlek from Thailand who has just finished his studies here last Friday. He is one of the volunteer for the program. The view is very beautiful from my room. I can see the infamous Diamond Head of Hawaii and Waikiki from my window.

After checking in, all of us met at 12.00 p.m. to have our lunch and get to know each other from the other countries. There are participants from Singapore, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia. We are the youngest group among them. Most of them are older than 25 years old and some participants from Fiji and Papua New Guinea have actually started working. We have also been introduced to the other EWC and University of Hawaii (UH) staff which are involved in this program and all the other volunters. The ice breaking session is wonderful, and we were welcome with a gift of kukui nut lei necklace (a traditional Hawaiian necklace for welcoming guests I guess). Then, we were brought for a short tour on the campus to make us familiar on which way to go and where to get things. The people here are just wonderful and very friendly (they just won't stop talking and will entertain you which is wonderful).

The view from my room window

Waikiki Skyscrappers

The View at Night

The Infamous Diamond Head (a Dead Volcano)

Some other views around Hawaii