Official Liaison College Blog

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mentoring Workshop

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a group of inspiring university students from Brescia University College - a women's college part of Western in London ON.

My mentee, Rosette, is a delightful and refreshing reminder of what it's like to have your entire life ahead of you and the twists and turns in the road that are life itself.  Rosette has taught me how to Skype.  No small feat if you know my prowess for things technical.  She has also reminded me of the strength within and the choices we make and smiling.  Rosette does everything with a bright, sunny smile - even when it's (from the outside looking in) not a great circumstance.  Rosette inspires me to savour the moment and live in it and enjoy it.  I'm sure that she's not aware of these elements that she brings to our relationship.

Recently we held a workshop for Rosette and some of her classmates.  One of her classmates is a writer and here's her version on the day's events:

On Tuesday, I attended a networking workshop at Liaison College, Brampton Campus. The session was organised by Brescia student Rosette and her mentor, Suzanne Mikler of Liaison College. They met through the mentorship programme at the Student Life Centre of Brescia.


The workshop was led by Donna Messer of ConnectUs Canada, and had a simple set up. A group of people got together. We all agreed to do two things to the best of our ability - to 1) listen to what other people need and give them your help, and 2) say what you need and let other people help you.


I had attended other networking sessions before but they were intimidating affairs. This session was much smaller, and because we were a cozy group of ten, I found it much easier to take interest in everybody in the group and get to know them. It was also easier for me be open and candid. There were six students and four working adults, all of us at different stages of our lifes, with different knowledge, skills, and things that we loved. Some people were more successful professionally, and others had more limited achievements. We all took turns to speak.


I learnt a lot over the course of the session.


I expected that people who had greater professional success to have greater capacities to give and were able to help more people in the group, and my expectations were aligned with reality. What surprised me was that these people were not just giving more, they were offering different things.


The less successful amongst us offered time and tangible skills. The ability to do research, write, do web design, computer programming, etc etc. The more successful amongst us were offering something else entirely. They gave information of who needed what and where. They offered relationships, ways to reach people who might need a skill that those were less successful had.


It was then that I understood what Donna meant when she introduced the idea of Servant Leadership at the beginning of the session, and said that it wasn't what you knew, it was who you brought to the table with you. I do not have specialised knowledge or skills that are rare or valuable, but even if I did, my ability to contribute is limited to what I know, and no more.


Bring yourself to the table is not enough, no matter how brilliant you are. Even Sherlock Holmes, a literary character I love and admire for his brilliant mind, brought with him a writer who was a devoted assistant and friend, a dozen extra sets of legs, eyes and ears that went anywhere, saw anything and overheard anyone, and family in high places.


But the ability to bring other people "to the table with you" depends more than mere technical know-how. I have many character flaws, and the biggest one surely is pride. I think that's why I've always resisted building relationships in favour of "being brilliant". Trust, gratitude, appreciation, reciprocity, commitment, contribution, humility... I am mulling over all these lessons once again, lessons I was taught many times in the past that I never listened.


Special thanks to Rosette and Suzanne for organising this workshop, to Donna for leading this workshop, and all the participants who shared their stories, skills and contacts.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Will you be my Valentine?

On February 14th we celebrate Valentine's Day or, as it is also referred to:  The Feast of St. Valentine.  However, most of us know that sending and receiving Valentines is a show of affection or love to our sweetheart. 

Well, at Liaison College, it is fitting that a "feast" include Food.

Here are some of my favourite romantic treats:

Warm Chocolate Melting Cakes - this recipe is taught in a workshop offered at Liaison College through Life Experiences (click on the link to the recipe).  It's a class in the Category of "out of the dog house and into the kitchen" where you can entertain and schmooze your sweetie with delicious, warm, chocolatey concoctions.  Say buh bye to the doghouse!

Cheese Fondue - there's nothing like a gooey, warm cheese dripping from a French Baguette complemented by a full bodied wine.  The Food Network has a wonderful recipe for cheese fondue.
My favourite wine at the moment is the McManis Family Petit Syrah from California which has won many awards.  Try it and you will know why!
Whatever your Valentines plans include I wish you a gourmet and romantic day!  Be my Valentine.