Professional Development Workshop, San Jose Rotary, Tech Museum

The girls were delighted to have a slightly later start this morning. Our day began with a workshop run by Gaylene on how to get the best out of your life, your job, your studies, your future.

Gaylene talked to them about self-limiting beliefs and how we are the only ones standing in the way of achieving what we want to achieve. She discussed with the students about working above the line – being accountable, taking ownership and being responsible for our own pathway as opposed to working below the line with blame, excuses and denial.

Laura and I shared examples from our own experiences to help the girls see some of these principles in action. We challenged the girls on their attitudes to things, like “I’m tired” and slouching across the table. We talked about turning negative phrases into positive affirmations. Instead of I’m tired, which we all were, we could say, I’m looking forward to the day!

The students were encouraged to give themselves positive affirmations. Fake it till you make it… I am good at this, I’ve got this, I love to speak in public, I enjoy asking strangers questions. We told them that eventually they re-programme their subconscious and find that these things aren’t as hard as they first thought they were. We noted that there are scientific studies to back this up! Attitude is everything, focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do!

From the feedback, we knew this challenged and encouraged many of the students.

Last night, knowing that we were visiting San Jose Rotary Club, one of the largest Rotary Clubs in the States, I asked the girls if they could make an extra effort with their dress and tie their hair up. They turned up in the morning looking fabulous!

We arrived at the Rotary Summit Centre (yes, it’s actually called that), a bit nervous as to what we would find. The girls had been practising their Waiata, but I still didn’t have confirmation that they could do it due to the tight schedule - despite my last email suggesting they do it while everyone ate so there was no disruption to the programming.

It was quite a grand affair. Rotary fine dining, with tables dressed in long white tablecloths, white napkins and coffee, iced tea and iced water on each table. There were about 25 tables and each table seated 10. Do the math! The food was more like a wedding banquet than a Rotary lunch. I was told by everyone I spoke to that I only had four minutes to speak. I knew that the video clip of Jacinda was 57 seconds, so I had three minutes and three seconds to share about IYM! As you know, I can talk forever about the programme, so it was a challenge. I had Gaylene with the timer on her phone, I had the timer on my phone, and I prepped Bree to give me hand signals at 2 minutes then 30 seconds. I finished with two seconds to spare. Quite a triumph I felt.

But the coup de grâce was that they finally agreed to the Waiata if the girls did it as I came off the stage to sit down. I told Malaya, who was leading it, that as soon as I had finished and started walking off the stage she was to stand, which was the cue for the other students to stand. No one was to muck around. Man, these kids were awesome! They did everything on cue, sang beautifully and received a resounding applause. We had so much feedback afterwards on how much they enjoyed it. It was a special New Zealand experience for San Jose Rotary.

The speaker was Bob Kieve, who spoke about his time as a special assistant and staff writer for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Kieve, who was in his nineties, was an interesting and entertaining speaker. Most of the girls enjoyed listening to him and a few took on board some of the things he had to say about doing a job you love! They enjoyed the Rotary experience for what it was — a different experience. It was great to see them embracing something out of their comfort zone and of course, the great food helped!

One of the Rotarians, Pam Foley is a new San Jose Councillor, so itinerary aside, she took us for a quick tour of the new San Jose Council Chambers which was next door to Rotary. She told the students a bit about what she does and how much she loves her job. The students got the opportunity to sit in the councillors’ seats and Bree scored the top seat of Mayor, which she seemed to find suitably comfortable. The girls shared later that night how much they enjoyed this little diversion and hearing how Foley loved her job so much. Great positive messages and all unscripted!

We walked from here to the Tech Museum under the guidance of a Rotarian, Harvard Sung, who also happens to be the CFO at the Tech Museum. We started with a fun engineering activity. We were in small groups and talked about water shedding. Each group had to create a drain cover for a part of the city (my group had parks and waterways). Some had urban streets, others had industrial areas.

We were given certain materials we could use, and some cards that we could exchange materials with or buy more materials. It was a fun activity, but we were all so good at it, that when the teacher poured the water on our drain covers none of the rubbish went through. She said it had never happened before and she lost her teaching opportunity!

The girls then had a chance to explore the museum and engage with some of the hands-on activities. Dinner was at Peggy Sue’s - a fun diner with a 60’s theme. Home for our peaks and troughs then bed for the girls while the leaders did the budget — my trough for the night.