The Social Transformation Workshops provided a really helpful opportunity to learn about project development with staff coaching, catered learning, and community-building that was unique across the University of Michigan campus. As our team is planning to host a health equity conference in Winter 2023, we joined the program to learn the skills needed to put on such a big event such as budgeting and event planning. One of the most helpful components of the Social Transformation Workshops was working with peers and professionals to translate our idea into actionable change. It can be really overwhelming to have a big idea and not know how to actualize it, but the workshop series helped us learn to visualize our project into actionable steps. We were able to learn how to identify the root cause of problems we wanted to address, determine the space in which we could uniquely tackle the issue, plan for obstacles and failure, commit early to build towards a goal, and respond to setbacks to make our project resilient. Although we did not have experience with event planning, our team was able to use peer and staff support to turn our original idea into an entire conference.
As the Barger Leadership Institute uniquely develops anyone into a leader, we were hoping to learn different leadership styles and how to lead for a community. The workshops taught us so much about leadership from project planning to cultivating our own leadership identities. Through a conflict resolution session, we learned about how people communicate differently and are better able to adapt to styles. These discussions helped us prepare for any future conflicts in our team and beyond by developing strategies for multiple communication styles. Learning about ethical community engagement from the Ginsberg Center was incredibly valuable as it is an important but often overlooked component of leadership. Through guidance and group discussions, we learned how to honor the voices of the population we want to work with using skills like asset-mapping, checking assumptions, and engaging the community we are working with as partners.
One of the most valuable parts of the workshops was being able to go through it with a cohort of other incredible project teams. Going into the program, our team members were really excited to hear about the other team’s projects and learn from and with each other. We loved collaborating with the other teams as we got to learn about their projects, brainstorm ideas for each other’s work, and be a support system for one another. Bouncing ideas off other teams allowed us to incorporate unique perspectives from informed individuals in a similar space, and it was very inspiring and motivating to work with an impressive group of people with a shared passion for social transformation. The hands-on activities with and between teams was very useful to apply conceptual learning from the workshops into our projects by planning with our teammates and bouncing ideas off other teams. Participating in the Social Transformation Workshops was a really incredible experience that has developed our project and leadership skills significantly over a short period of time. This learning experience was not only valuable for our current projects but can also be translated to other leadership roles.