MY FIRST CONVO TALK
Every Thursday from 10:30am-12pm, our group meets for Convocation ("Convo"), which is a weekly assembly. Our RA's lead the meeting with announcements, we typically have a speaker, and we end with "JIA-firmations," which is a sweet time to affirm someone in the program for something specific they have done.
This past Thursday was the first time that I spoke at Convo. I called out to all my prayer warriors to lift me up in prayer. I had so much that I wanted to say to the students, but I wanted it to STICK. I didn't just want to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk... AND, they had all just returned from our long travel weekend, so the likelihood of them falling asleep if I was not engaging was HIGH! :)
I focused my talk on 3 main points:
1) JUST DO YOU!
2) INVEST IN A MENTOR!
3) DON'T MISS THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF YOUR SHANGHAI EXPERIENCE!
1) JUST DO YOU: This is a message that has been heavy on my heart. I feel like we all tend to have some level of self-doubt. We ask ourselves if we are enough? Will I be good enough? Is someone better at us? Our insecurities tempt us to think less of ourselves…I am not tall enough, blond enough, pretty enough, rich enough…and my message to the students was: JUST DO YOU! YOU ARE ENOUGH. When I feel low and tempted to doubt myself, I reach out to my prayer warriors and ask them for encouragement. Recently, I did this and my dear friend Julia shared these CHRIST-breathed words with me:
“Stella - get behind my eyeballs for just a minute - and I see an astoundingly powerful person of humor, gentle wit, intellect and intuition sent to this earth in your small person. Such an amazing presence you are! Maybe God made you small because if you were big you'd be too intimidating So, as to thinking you are not enough (fill in the blank) just stop that nonsense! God made you perfectly and you are following and seeking him so that's the plan.” [THANK YOU, JULIA!]
I shared this with the students and then asked them to write in their journals about someone in the program. I asked them to start off with: “[NAME], get behind my eyeballs for just a minute…” and they shared what they see. They shared the entries with one another out loud. Tears flowed afterwards and the room was filled with love.
2) INVEST IN A MENTOR: I wanted to be sure to tell the students how valuable it is to intentionally invest in a person in your field of interest who you can learn from, who shares your values, and who can be your cheerleader and open opportunities for them. I encouraged them to think of this now – to email professors who they respect, meet with people in the industries that they are interested in pursuing, to invest in a mentor. Do it now. Not after you graduate. Do it in Shanghai. Do it after. Just do it.
3) DON’T MISS THE RIPPLE EFFECTS: The Shanghai experience will transform the students. No doubt. I encouraged them to consider the ripple effects of this experience. It’s not just one and done – they will be transformed intellectually, spiritually, socially, emotionally…in so many ways. Their actions and decisions made here will impact their futures. I shared this so that they are aware that this is a transformative experience.
After the talk, several students came up to me and asked to spend time with me and others texted me and shared that the message resonated with them. I was so grateful for that! I pray that God uses these words to teach them just one thing. Yes, I pray this is so.
Some new firsts: convo and Classes
CONVO: The RAs led our first "convo," an abbreviated term for "convocation" which is a weekly assembly for our program. They did a very professional job preparing slides and making announcements for the program. Other student workers (like the food managers, office assistant, communications manager, etc.) were all selected this week as well. Students applied for the positions and interviewed for them. We have an excellent team of student leaders here.
During the first convo, a local counselor also came to introduce herself and to encourage students to be mindful of their mental health while abroad and invited them to make appointments with her when she visits twice a week at the Jia. Appointments are confidential and covered with our program costs. This is a wonderful service for our students.
CLASSES: It happened! We started classes. The staff has done an amazing job introducing us to Shanghai and laying down a sold foundation for us to thrive in the program. And now it is time for the professors to teach and the students to study. The students and I all seem to crave the routine that the class schedule will bring and are looking forward to the classes.