The time with RISE went by so fast due to meeting many interesting and inspirational people. My interactions with the RISE members and activities were incredibly beneficial. This week, I was lucky to meet and talk with many new individuals.
First, I interviewed leaders at the MSU Gender Center. One of the leaders was a graduate student and the other was a secretary at the center. I asked several questions about female leadership and they explained what they do at the center. That was really amazing because I could see their desire to assist the next generation of female leaders from MSU. They said that leaders should be a person who can develop a new leader; therefore, they created many programs for that purpose. For example, they help students to apply for internships. In that process, they give them advice, but they say that what is important is to let students take leadership. The people at the center are experts, but they do not do everything for students. They have students take leadership of their own project. Following that experience, students can repeat the process without any help. Through this interview, I recognized the importance of having a program where you can test your knowledge and master it through the practice.
In addition, I had an opportunity to attend the Muskegon Activist Conference & Issues Forum thanks to Victoria. This conference was hosted by Planned Parenthood, and about 15 people were a part of this event. The goal of this conference was to find a victory moment in regards to women and LGBTQ issues for each person. What was most impressive for me was the topic of abortion. At lunchtime, three women who were experts in medical care held an issue forum for us. What was interesting to me was that the situation involving abortion issues seemed to be completely opposite between America and Japan. What I noticed was that many Americans understand the obstacles and troubles that these groups face, such as people opposing certain things. Now, LGBTQ people are having a hard time to win freedom. I understood how tough it was for them and emphasized with the pain. However, I thought they had already made a lot of progress because they at least have a community to share the challenging experiences and some people, even non-LGBTQ people, try to support them. In other countries, such people are still in the situation where they cannot declare their true feelings and are banned to say the word ‘LGBTQ’. Compared to them, America has achieved a big change in society and that can be said that they can see hope. I want them to see there is hope and they should not give up after making it this far. I wish that I could share this experience and create more opportunities to discuss about this issue in Japan.
Meeting new people let me broaden my view. I felt the importance of jumping into the community which is far from my comfort zone because this allows me to communicate with people who I have never met before. I believe that this is also an important success factor in leadership. RISE gave me a community this summer. I can now realize the meaning of RISE mission “Create, Grow, and Connect: A Community of Leaders Committed to Stewardship and Environmental Sustainability.”