Sunday, July 26, 2009

What A Way to Start!

Wow. What a day. I began by waking up at 6:15, though classes didn't start until 9:00. Though today was only our first day of lectures and group meetings, we already had reading assigned to us last night. Since I could not finish the required 130 pages of reading last night, I woke up earlier. This did prove successful, and though it was tiring during lectures, I am glad I understood some of the topics involved.

The first lecture at 9:00 was delivered by Dr. Luong. He spoke about Grand Strategy, Leadership, and even discussed one book we had to read: Sun Tzu's The Art of War. In my opinion, Dr. Luong's lecture was very informative from beginning to end. Since it is really difficult to incorporate everything onto this blog (especially because we just started a group project today), I will point out what I thought was important.

He first starts out by defining what Grand Strategy is; though he does mention that there is no "universally accepted definition of Grand Strategy". An overall "compromise" for the definition is "the calculated relationship between means and large ends." He then goes over the definition of calculated, means, and large ends. "Calculated" is said to be planned/analyzed; "means" are the resources available, especially time; and "large ends" are the final result/outcomes. Dr. Luong then talks about how to become a Grand Strategist, including skills such as asking questions, finding relationships between ideas, and evaluating ideas.

Another important factor he stressed was the idea of having an intellectual mind. This means that you should accept the fact that you do not know everything. In addition, Dr. Luong taught us about the three "Essences of Leadership": BE, KNOW, and DO. (BE a leader; KNOW yourself/your subordinates/your goals; DO seek respect/lead by example, etc.)

There is so much information that Dr. Luong shared with us, and I am glad I had my laptop as well as a notebook to take notes. (My laptop eventually ran out of battery...). After a 2 1/2 hour lecture, we had Brunch (we didn't have breakfast...instead students were reading the 130 pages that were assigned or going out to buy breakfast). Brunch was 1 1/2 hours but time seemed to fly by really quickly during our "break". Next, we had two lectures, one from Dr. Luong again about the book, The Art of War (which he read when he was only 11!). He went over the main ideas and mentioned the Sage Commander's "Qualifications". The most important qualification was Wisdom. This not only includes knowledge, but also the ability to analyze what is going on around you, and being an expert about tactics.

A little after Dr. Luong presented, we heard from Professor David Hennigan, whom talked about Political Ideologies and "isms" (specifically Liberalism, Marxism, and a little about Nationalism). What I was very shocked about was the major participation made by the students. Unfortunately, this was where I lacked knowledge since I did not take AP Euro. Though I did pick up some information because I took AP U.S. History, I could not come up with questions to ask; not to mention, I was a little lost throughout the lecture. I did learn from many students though and realized how much they knew. Everywhere around the room, someone would raise their hand, either to contribute to the discussion or to ask a question. After this point, I definitely realized how engaged my fellow "classmates" were. I have not met so many enthusiastic students before, and I am really excited about what is to come next on our long list of lectures. I hope that by the end of the 2 weeks, I will be able to join them and ask questions too!

The next lesson was taught by Dean Nick Coburn-Palo, who spoke about Philosophy. He actually retired as a philosophy teacher at Yale, but we are lucky enough to have him speak to us as a part of the program. I found his lecture very interesting and received tips about reading philosophy and learned about many philosophers, including Kant, Hume, Bentham, and Mill. We went over many terms that defined different perspectives about morality. The last subject was the longest one we talked about and it was probably the most complex (in my opinion). Utilitarianism defines morality as whatever "brings the most pleasure and avoids the most pain". Though that might not sound that complicated, there are three types of Utilitarianism: Narrative vs. Descriptive, Act vs. Rule, and Egoistic vs. Universalistic. That was where I began to lose track so I will just continue on with what we did next.

After the long lecture, we went to another building and split up into groups. These groups are who we will be spending time with for most of our 2 weeks. At the end of the program, we will be presenting a Marshall Brief Policy to a few highly educated professors and scholars who will listen to our policy idea and test how much we know about our topic. My topic (which we were able to choose before attending) is Education in the Developing World. Our mentor's name is Bryce and he seems like a challenging mentor. I am definitely up for the challenge though I must say I am already quite shocked at how much work we have to do.

I will try to take a picture of all of us soon, but unfortunately, our topic is due tomorrow as well as 5 sources that I have not collected yet. Therefore, I must end my blog for now. I hope that I will get a chance to post pictures up soon, especially one with my Marshall Brief Policy group as well as my roommates (my roommates and myself are all working really hard right now so it's probably not the best time for a picture...). Not to mention, our program includes having to write speeches (both persuasive and extemporaneous) and present them to a group of students and staff members. I hope you all understand how much we have to do and unfortunately that will affect how much and how thorough my blogs will be. Anyways, thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Jessica,

    I think that all of us who joined Dr. Dr. Luong for dinner a couple of months back knew right then and there that this class—his class—was going to be very special. From what I’m reading it’s all being verified.

    When he tells you of the ‘intellectual’ mind that is still evolving and waiting to be filled with more information, I so desperately want him to sit down with a few people I’ve worked with who already know everything.

    Just curious, is there available power to plug in your laptops when you’re in class? Considering that it takes significantly longer to recharge your batteries than what you’re given between classes, having power close by and/or additional batteries seems a must.

    Please don’t be intimidated by what you think your classmates know. Yes, some of them have been exposed to things that we can’t provide you with and some of them are just plain wicked smart but guess what, Jessica—so are you. Once you get your feet firmly planted I’m betting that you’ll jump in with both feet.