Learning about Grand Challenges, learning about myself...
Being an only child of immigrant parents means that I am the first person they come to ask for help whenever they don’t understand something they need to do in English. Normally, I like to do all the research and consider all the questions before I act on something. So before I try to help my parents, I always try to understand their problem and its background. Because of that, it takes me a very long time to complete the task. That’s why my parents always say that I work like an American now because they noticed how much longer it takes Americans to build infrastructure compared to the Chinese.
This past weekend, every GCIL team was hustling to get the draft of their report done. My team spent most of the weekend finishing our prototype for our project. Everything for this report was happening so fast this past week that my mind couldn’t keep up with the process of considering all the questions and options. I felt lost at multiple points during the week. We spent all Sunday on our report; my mind was exhausted from our work and I thought frisbee would be a good outlet for me to unclog my mind. I was ready to pull an all nighter for this report.
However, once I came back from a liberating frisbee game that I missed dearly, I found out that my group had practically finished the report. There was an immediate sense of guilt that crushed my body. I only did some minor stuff in the appendix and I felt guilty that I was playing frisbee while my team was working. I felt like I let the team down. All I wanted to do was to keep working to make up for the work I missed that night. But instead, I stayed up late staring at the computer and beating myself up in my head.
After getting some rest the next day, I realized that if I keep focusing on being mad at myself, I will only hurt the team even more. It was the feeling of losing control on what the project was about that almost caused me to break down. The feeling of being lost when everything seems impossible to achieve must be what it is like for others trying to solve other Grand Challenges, too. I remember my coach telling me that one can only focus on the controllables in those moments. So, I made a list of my strengths and refocused myself on the roles I can take to help my team for this project. Being on the GCIL program not only taught me how to do design thinking and how to find a solution to a problem, it taught me how to work in a team and much more about myself than what a normal classroom would have done.