Leadership is a quality most of us would define as the person in charge or the person people look to for plans and solutions. In reality, a leader can be any one of us, in any aspect of our lives. Attending conferences like Dal Lead! have taught me aspects of leadership I hadn’t thought about. I mean, I knew they were important, I just had never considered them as a role of leadership.
I was drawn to Dal Lead! because I love taking charge and I love learning new ways to help others. I heard of the conference through SAIL (Student Advancement in Leadership), and since I’d attended the East Coast Leadership Conference back in November, I knew I would enjoy this conference as well.
I prepared for it by taking some time to wander through my thoughts and source my definition of leadership and what I thought it meant: being in charge, building plans, finalizing arrangements, taking the initiative others wouldn’t, etc. I made sure to bring a device to take notes, so that I would be able to bring back my newfound knowledge to share with my peers.
When we first entered the conference, we were welcomed by Elder Geri Musqua-LeBlanc who started the conference with a smudging ceremony. If you haven’t experienced smudging before, it’s the burning of various medicine plants used by many First Nations people to create a cleansing smoke. It was my first cleansing, and I felt a sense of peace overwhelm me—it was a beautiful way to start our day.
During the conference there were presenters and a keynote speaker, but there were also concurrent sessions that you could choose to attend, depending on your interests. My favourite one was on Coordinating Chaos. Working with others is something almost all of us do daily, so why sulk and be a grouch when you can learn to work efficiently with others instead of against them? I hope to be able to present the concepts learned from this session to classmates as it’s something everyone can benefit from.
I also attended a public speaking lab, where I was able to learn some pointers from someone who had started out shy and had worked her way to being able to speak in front of large crowds. I’m someone who can talk to anybody in a one-on-one, but the larger the crowd the harder I find it to speak my words clearly and with confidence. We learned different techniques and pointers on how to improve our confidence—or at least to look like we are.
Diverse backgrounds and views
The conference was full of students from many backgrounds and cultures, from whom I was able to learn different views on leadership. I’ve always been infatuated with different cultures and religions and learning to peacefully and respectfully work with people of different beliefs. Attending such a small campus such as ours has its perks, but I do feel sometimes we don’t have as much diversity as larger university campuses. After I graduate this spring, I plan on moving to Toronto where I will be encountering many people of differing backgrounds. I hope to be able to apply my learning to my workplace and provide our clientele with the proper respect and appreciation based on their beliefs.
In all aspects, I fully enjoyed my experience at the conference, and I encourage you to attend next year (even if you think you aren’t a leader). It’s a great way to meet new people, expand your connections, and really just put yourself out there.
Olivia wishes she could go to Dal Lead! again next year.