Availability Status Paradox

images-1.jpgIt amazes me how we live in a world that is so attached to technology and social media especially, and yet we have such a hard time getting confirmation notices from people about scheduling events.

According to recent studies, Americans check social media on average of 17 times a day, which is about one time for every hour they’re awake. Furthermore, the average American spends about a third of their awake day on a phone. (4.7 hours out of the average 15 hours spent awake.) Yet with all of this time spent on phones, somehow we still manage to have a discouraging amount of people who are frightfully incompetent at virtual communication with project teams.

Kemps this year did not even get to finish the tournament because too many teams had a problem actually getting together to play their matches. This weekend is our spring showcase at Jump Start and I am still haven’t gymnasts last minute tell me that they won’t be there which means I’m constantly re-choreographing and coaching. All year when I would try to schedule meetings, so many people just don’t respond until last minute, or they forget to ask the right people if they can actually attend. It’s just crazy that people can’t organize and communicate their schedules.

Then you get the excuse, “oh I’m sorry I don’t understand how to work ____ in order to respond.” And this baffles me even more, because if you don’t know how to work something (which is hard to believe because communication tools are pretty user friendly as far as it goes), then I’m sure there is someone you can ask to teach you how to use a tool. All you have to do is ask for help, but often that is a mind blowing concept.

Social media and scheduling tools like Google Calendar, Skype invites, Slack, and even just email are great tools, but only if people actually use them. How might we get more people to update their availability status to teams in a timely manner?

Welcoming Summer Adventures

images.jpgI’m a senior!?!? I still am processing and I don’t think it’s officially hit me yet, but I’m certain that junior year is over and now for the excitement of summer!

It’s funny because although I’ve had my last day of school, I will still be in the building for meetings and projects that don’t stop just because a final bell rang. Plus, I’m only done because I’m lucky enough to be exempting all of my final exams since I had all As and not too many absences. However, not everyone is in this situation, so the last day feels a tad anti climatic because not everyone really finishes school at the same time.

The part about today that made it really feel like the end of a year was saying good bye to teachers that are not returning to MPVS, and having mini parties in some classes. I’m one of those abnormal children who enjoys school most of the time, so I’m sad to an extent that it’s over. I’ll miss seeing my friends everyday, and I’ve already been missing drama, and Innovation Diploma is never really over, though getting to see everyone in person won’t happen over the summer much. Plus of course I’ll miss playing Kemps and jamming to musical music in A Cappella club.

I’ve already made my list of summer goals, which includes various reading pieces, writing ideas, working on the Senior Theater Project, “before I graduate” plans to finish, working on mini interest projects, and many more. To me summer is a time where I truly get to take control of my learning (plus sleep more), so I’m sad this year is over because it flew by and was mostly enjoyable, but I’m also super ready to welcome summer adventures!


images-1.jpgBeing a leader is hard. I’m the founder of Kemps Khaos Club at MVPS last year, though we were an un-offical club 2 years ago as well, and each year we’ve tried to improve our student-faculty card game tournament.

This year we set up the “Kemps Kouncil”  to help deal and organize all game times. However, trying to organize the Kouncil to make sure they organize the games is a whole other challenge. It’s been challenging mainly because usually I’m that kind of leader who, when something isn’t being done, I just do it myself to make sure it’s done. However, with Kemps, I’ve really been trying to let my team mates take that responsibility and just give them reminders to make sure it gets done. The hard part is when I get questions from teachers about when they are going to play their next game and all I can say is, “I don’t know, your dealer should be sending you an email soon…”

A lot of times when I’m on a team I end up in a leadership role. It’s just my personality and nature I guess, even in a letter I have from my preschool teachers it says, “When playing in a group setting, Anya prefers to be the leader but will allow other children to take over that role as well.”

In fact a lot of that letter is a surprisingly accurate description of how I still am today, which seems so weird considering I was 3 at the time this was written. I wonder how old we are when our fundamental personality traits start showing. How much do we really change over time? What traits start showing themselves earlier than others? What personality traits are more likely to change over time versus staying consistent through out a person’s life? What shapes our personality?

I feel like in high school one of the most common faced problems is someone feeling the need to be like someone else, rather than feeling comfortable with embracing who they are.  Everyone is an individual person with different personality traits. Some that are praised, and others which show our weaknesses, but they all make us, us. Our differences are what make us unique, special, noticed amongst the crowd.  At a wedding the bride is the one in a different dress. When trying to get someone’s attention you stand up to be spotted in the sitting crowd. In a sea of yellow flowers, it’s easy to spot the one that’s a radiant, ruby red.

For the amount of stress teenagers go through with trying to figure out “who am I?” I wonder what it would be like if schools placed more time and energy into helping students embrace their individuality. It’s a skill that will truly last a life time and be invaluable to success.

Individuality is important to me, and it’s something I see people struggle with all the time which makes me sad, frustrated, and oddly ignited. HMW help people feel comfortable being themselves? It’s a question that’s been asked by people for centuries, so why does it seem that not much has changed- I mean if the question is still being asked, clearly the problem hasn’t been solved. Why not? Are we asking the right question? Are we tackling the problem the right way? Are we communicating and working with the right people?

I feel the designer inside of me burning with questions and a sense of agency to take action in some way or form yet I simply don’t know where to start, so I’m starting with these questions. Hopefully something will come from them.


New Season, New Rules, and Newbees


I’m not a great singer, and I know this. However, I love band and being in musicals, so I would really like to improve my singing capabilities. So now, officially as of today, I’ve joined the new a cappella club at MVPS.

We were talking about what to name ourselves and it just made me think about all of the big choices that have to be made when starting a team. Or even when continuing a team but for a new season.

We’ve been in the process of organizing Kemps Khoas club stuff for what will now be our 3rd season, and every year we have new challenges because we try to make new tweaks to better the experience for everyone. Since year one, based on feedback from players, we have more than doubled the size of our tournament, we have made more concrete rules, we have changed the system for creating teams, we’ve added some fun all play days, we’ve gotten more efficient at scheduling game times and dealers, we have an official council helping to organize and make decisions, and this year we will even have a snazzy trophy being designed that will be 3D printed for our champions.

Every year, while the game has stayed the same, the full program as you may call it, has had to change to keep up with what is and isn’t working and to take account for the newbees that join each year, many that have never even heard of Kemps before.

After today, I realized how stinking similar this process is going to be (but on a much large scale) for ID as we start to experience it for multiple years now. We made it through a year, and it was great, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve upon the system. In fact, it means we have to change the system because now, like in Kemps, we have newbees, many that are still trying to figure out how they fit into ID.

One change we made for Kemps this year is that we are requiring people who signed up at the club fair to come to at least one of our 3 info meetings in September to show that they really are dedicated and want to play. At these sessions we informed the returning people on the changes we’ve made for this year, and for the newbees we do the same, but we also have to teach them how to even play at all.

After our first info session which was held yesterday, I realized that it probably wasn’t super efficient with having both newbees and oldies there at the same time because the way I needed to present the information was very different. I tried to explain to the oldies first so that way they could move on to other work if they didn’t want to stick around to play practice games. The newbees were still in the area when I was explaining the changes to the oldies, but to them it all sounded like jargon at that point because at that point they didn’t know the basics of how to play so they didn’t have the content for the ideas to latch onto (so I assume based on observations at least). Therefore, in the end I actually had to repeat myself a little so that the newbees could better understand after they were given more content.

I notice the fail up opportunities in this system, but I also recognize that we’ve still made an improvement even from last year. Last year, if you didn’t know how to play then you had to taken upon yourself to reach out to someone that did know in order to learn and rules and regulations were emailed to everyone in a google doc, which most people didn’t really read… Therefore, a lot of people played their first ever match during the tournament, and big overarching things to know about the club, were mainly spread by word of mouth we discovered. We took these observations to try and make improvements this year, but with new ideas will always come new obstacles to jump over.

And now is about when I’m realizing, ID is facing similar challenges. With year 2 we have many new ideas being experimented with due to observations and discoveries from year one. However, we also have the added ball in our jugglers hands, of having a large group of newbees that have to first learn the content of the game in order to understand the whole game process. As an oldie now to this process, I may not need to relearn the entire game, but I still need to understand the changed rules which can sometimes require a little backtracking and relearning in a new way to come to a better understanding in the end.

In ID today we what some may consider a “serious talk”. We had everyone seated down in the conference room and our mentors discussed with us how they don’t see “the light in 100% of our eyes”, meaning not everyone has been keeping up with the responsibilities we all agreed to keep up with as a member of the Innovation Diploma. So they read some passages, and showed us some video clips, all with the intent of making us think about what we want to get out of ID and about what we can do to help make sure everyone feels successful at the end of the year.

I’m going to be honest, I blanked when reflecting on my definition of success in ID for me personally. I don’t know what success will look like because I’m not even sure on what my goals are yet. I have a problem, that most everyone is well aware of at least from the Disney Cohort, where I get involved in a bunch of things, but never dedicate specific focus to do one thing really well. This makes defining goals extremely difficult for me. And I think this is why I have better success when working on a team.

For example, while Kemps club was my idea/brain baby creation, it was the motivation from my peers that really inspired me to get it started. Year one it wasn’t even a real club. I had suggested the idea at the end of 8th grade, and then the next year, while playing during lunch one day, the idea came up again. So my friends and I pulled out a computer and started making a draft of what the letter would look like that we would send to teachers, since almost none of them had ever played/heard of Kemps before. The letter amused us so much that we all agreed we should actually make it happen. That’s team decision, which almost felt like a challenge and thusly a new obligation to complete it in a way, is what motivated me to start the steps needed to make the first year tournament a thing. Then after that first success, the next year we were able to up our game with a new challenge: make it an official MVPS club. This years main challenge is to gain participation and excitement to start thinking about how to keep the club going after my grade (which includes most of the club currently) graduates high school.

I also find that when I make my challenges more public, I feel more obligated and dedicated to get them done. Even when I first started this blog, it all started due to first a challenge, and then my first post where I shared my challenge, and once that happened I felt obligated to my followers and also to myself to prove I could complete the challenge. I can often feel the moment when I take ownership of a project/venture, because in that moment is when I feel energized to see it all the way through. It’s the moment of no going back. To reach that point though, there is often a lot of struggle and doubt where it’s the support of others and reminder of a goal that keeps pushing me forward.

I remember going through these moments even with mine and Kat’s AP Lang Collab-Course. At first the class was just an idea. I got on board more as a “why not? The opportunity seems like a good solution based on my needs, so sure I’ll go for it.” Then slowly as more people started to get interested and ask questions about the idea, and we really started to immerse ourselves into the venture, we got to the point where we now feel immensely proud about how it’s even a thing at all! Since we are only a team of 2, rather than most of our support coming from a team mate, we really had to put a lot of trust in our mentors and I think that’s what made us successful in the end.

At fuse15 during my MoVe Talk I talked about how important the role of a mentor is to thinking like a designer. I believe so strongly in this! All of the time I look back on my high school experience and just think, “I don’t know how I would have gotten through that without such awesome mentors.” Kat and I based our course off of The Hero’s Journey, and an early step on that journey is specifically dedicated to “meeting the mentor” because every great hero has a mentor. Just like Mr. Miagi, mentor’s often use some wacky plan or analogy, like constantly referencing The Lion King when talking about school struggles, or having students do improv for a whole week of class, or going on tangents in other languages and subjects, or letting students dress up in wacky costumes to intensely debate a case for an ancient and dead warrior, or starting off a new semester by playing cranium. To some, these methods may seem insane and not make much sense, but if you trust the mentor and wait out the process with full dedication, eventually the method to the madness becomes clear and it turns out that all of these crazy methods have immensely helped my learning.

Games, systems, and new organizations, they can all be tricky to develop at first, and future years always bring new obstacles with every new opportunity. However, with support, commitment, and trust, success can be found.

VelociRAG Bonding


I feel like I’ve been making such better bonds with people in the last few days. Which would make sense since a day in TIP time equals a week of normal school, so in theory we are about at second semester now at which point people start to have some great stories.

My class today played Kemps during the break which I always find to be a great way to bring people together since there is partner work and tons of laughter. I also played Hearts again with people during break which was nice.

Tonight was also my Rag Night as we call it, so instead of going to an evening activity, our Rag group all decided on something special we wanted to do as a group. We decided to go see Jurassic World, and coincidentally my TA and instructor ended up coming with us because we needed drivers which was kind of neat.

To be honest I wasn’t in love with the movie itself, but our entire Rag had a fantastic time!!!!!! We were about 20 minutes late, so even with previews we missed the beginning and then couldn’t all sit together because we weren’t really that organized while coming into a movie late. I sat next to one other girl in my Rag and we had some hilarious commentary! After the movie all we could do was laugh for some reason, which was probably bad, but we were all just so happy because we had such a good time with our rag!!!

We even decided to call ourselves the “velociRAG” because after the movie we were acting like velociraptors and were really happy about how we bonded.

It’s amazing how people can bond in the most unlikely of places. Who new you could grow so close to people by watching a movie?

Observing the Little Sparks


Today, (like pretty much every day at Nerd Camp), was fantastic!!!

Sunday’s are our only day off from class, but we still do a bunch of learning because it’s still life! We have free time until 12, then from 1-4 we do TIP Star activities (which usually are more learning activities), then 4-5 free time (like normal), then dinner, then 6-8 we watched a movie, then free time until our rag meeting and bed.

After playing flute some, I did lots of physical stuff today actually. I stretched for gymnastics practice, I tried out for the top ultimate frisbee team, and I took an African Dance class.

Ultimate frisbee cracks me up at TIP because we take it really seriously. The try outs today involved signing up, choosing which team to try out for, an inspiration/historical speech of why we play and have the Water Colors team (the top team that is captained by a 4th yearer who was given the special frisbee by last years captain and has been signed by all of the past captains), then we did some actual drills with ways to pass a frisbee and offense versus defense. So I’ll find out later this week about the team…

African dance was also really cool because I love dancing and it’s always interesting to see how different cultures dance. We learned a dance from Guinea and it was really energetic and fun!

The second activity I did today (which was actually my first TIP Star activity before African Dance) was Make a Movie. I was in an all girls group with a bunch of people I didn’t know, but we decided to make a silent, abridged version of Romeo and Juliet. It was all filmed in the library and some right out side of it, and it actually turned out surprisingly well! In fact I think it was better than most school movie projects I’ve done and it was completely filmed and edited in only and hour and a half which is way less time than any of our school projects take. We had one girl who was a wiz with iMovie on her phone and was editing as we were filming. It was actually incredible and it was one of those moments where I was amazed with what people can learn to do.

The idea of being amazed by what people can do relates so nicely with the movie I watched today. I watched The Imitation Game!!!!! I’ve seen it once before a month or so ago, but I’ve been wanting to watch it again especially since being in Spy 101 because the movie is all about stuff we’ve been talking about!!! We spent about an hour one day talking specifically about Enigma and WWII even. So this time I think I was able to follow a lot more of the story just because I had a better idea of what was happening (it switches time periods a bunch and I don’t think I caught that well the first time), and on a small scale I related to the stress and joy to code breaking.

I love the quote that they repeat through out the movie, “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” It’s just so inspiring to make you want to embrace the things that make us all different.

I ended the day with more learning too. I taught some friends how to play Kemps, then when we had 5 people we switched games and I learned a new card game for me called Hearts. The game was pretty fun and it is basically the opposite of Spades in just about every way which I find funny because I learned both at TIP.

Learning doesn’t stop when class stops. We can be inspired by things all around us, and who knows if some little thing we learn could spark a new passion and goal inside of us. I wonder if people take more time to notice and observe even our little learning moments, then will these sparks become more clear.

Schools Out!


I’M DONE; I’M OFFICIALLY ON SUMMER VACATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (So I guess that means I’m officially a junior… Wow. That makes me an Upper Classman…Still processing that one because it just seems too crazy to be true.)

Ah it feels great to be able to exempt final exams because of good grades because now I get a whole extra week of summer! Today I took my first ever AP exam, and I must say I felt pretty good about it. AP World is supposedly one of the hardest AP exams, and while some of the multiple choice I didn’t quite know, I think I rocked the essays (hopefully my thought is correct)!

Because of the AP I got to leave at 11:30ish technically but I stayed to watch the finals of Kemps Khaos. A) I wanted to stay. B) I think it makes sense for the president and founder of the club to be there for the championships.

I still can’t believe it is actually the end of the year. It seems like so much has happened.

I founded Kemps Khoas as an official club. ID was founded and the Disney Cohort came together. I lead business leaders through many a design thinking challenges. I took my first AP course. I went to San Francisco. I sat back stage at Wicked. I had my biggest drama fail (#failup) as well as many successes like our biggest production that we’ve ever done. I managed to participate in all of the band concerts by working on pieces outside of school on my own. I started a Twitter account. Plus I kept of this blog for almost a full year now! (This is post 324!!!!)

I’m still trying to process that all of this happened and this is just some of it!

With summer coming up it makes me think about when I started this blog and I had no idea what to blog about. I felt so confused, but I was just going to go with it. Seems like it worked out pretty well. I’m actually really glad I had started over the summer and not during the school year because it encouraged me to take special notice of learning outside of the classroom.

As the summer starts I hope to continue this blog with how I started, by observing, learning, and reflecting without having to be in a classroom. (Well I mean Nerd Camp #DukeTIP is still kind of classroom, but the idea is still there!)