Friday, 28 June 2013

Guest Blog: Traveling Tips for Students

 We often receive requests to post guest blogs. This week we met KC Owens who was intersted in sharing some tips with peers.   

Safe and happy travels in the future, KC!

Traveling The World On Less Than A Dime

College students generally don't have a lot of money and are often too busy with school to make any.  Between having to go to classes, do homework, and sleep, there is very little time for anything else.  But most college students have summers off from classes and those who value their free time use summer vacation to travel the world.  For many, this is the final opportunity to go on extended vacations before joining the work force and working full-time.  Everyone's final summer vacations are treasured and there is no better way to spend your time than traveling the world.

How to Fund Your Trip
Financing a trip around the world is far from trivial but is possible to do without racking up a massive bill.  Working a part-time job while in school isn't easy but with good time management skills, it is possible.  By saving a few dollars from each paycheck, enough money can be saved throughout a school year to spend the summer traveling.

When a part-time job doesn’t give you enough money to travel, do what I did. I did a little research and found out that you can use a student credit card to help fund your travels. This may sound crazy, but it helped me fund my travels by giving me the option to borrow money for expensive plane and train tickets and then repay the bank once I returned home and continued working and going to school. This way, I didn’t need all the cash up front before my trip. Also, the card helped me buy food and museum passes while I was abroad; I didn’t have to carry as much cash on me (which was safer) and I was able to exchange currencies automatically!

Why not Work?
Once on vacation, there are several ways of making the trip inexpensive.  The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program allows students to work on organic farms around the world.  It costs $40 to become a member of WWOOF but the program makes a whole world of work opportunities available.  Generally, the workers on the farm are given room and board in addition to some meals. The program is also an excellent way to meet like-minded travelers from different corners of the world and I would highly recommend using their resources to help offset your costs.

When not staying at a WWOOF farm, there are many inexpensive places to stay while on vacation.  Most areas have hostels in every town and rooms are generally less than $40 per night.  The Hostelworld phone app has a comprehensive list of hostels in areas all over the world.  Most hostels have bunk beds and shared rooms separated by gender.  While lacking privacy, the advantage of this set up is being able to meet other travelers from around the world who are also looking to travel inexpensively.  Generally, hostels also have a kitchen area to prepare meals, which is far less expensive than eating at a local restaurant.  Unfortunately, hostels are popular and sometimes fill up, especially in small towns and villages.  Checking in with a hostel immediately upon arriving in town will help ensure a bed to sleep in for the night.  

Traveling the world doesn't have to be an overly expensive affair.  By saving a bit of money and borrowing the rest to cover an airplane ticket and some food and transportation costs, one can travel around many places in the world for very little money.   The advantage of traveling gives you the opportunity to interact with many people who are on similar missions to see the world.

KC Owens has written and submitted this article. KC is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.

Friday, 14 June 2013

EQ and IQ: What matters when leading?




It used to be that I.Q. was more important than E.Q. to leaders. In other words, the person with the highest I.Q. got to be the leader. Today—it’s now more about E.Q. than I.Q. Our emotional intelligence, or the way we manage our emotions and the emotions of others are key to connecting with and leading teams. Consider this: Success in school is about 75% I.Q., and 25% E.Q.  Once you enter your career, it’s just the opposite. Good leaders cultivate good people skills.
Emotional Intelligence is the sum total of four ingredients:
  1. My self awareness
  2. My self-management
  3. My social awareness
  4. My relationship management.
So How Do Leaders Connect with People?
Many leaders make the mistake of separating leadership from relationships. This happens when a person steps into a position of leadership and assumes that everyone will follow them because of their position.
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” -Dr. John C. Maxwell 

Four Word Pictures

(Take initiative and make them feel comfortable)
Every interaction has a host and guest. Good leaders “host” the relationships on their team. Knowing what a good host does in their home, we ought to be able to do it with people everywhere. Leaders set the tone and create safe environments to grow.

(Ask questions. Probe and poke with until you see a need)
Doctors ask questions before they give answers. As you attempt to discern people’s needs or team problems—ask questions, until you can see where they are. Only then do you try to address their needs. Don’t give a prescription before a diagnosis.

(Become an active listener and discern what you hear)
Just like a good counselor, your verbal and non-verbal skills communicate you understand. Leaders must be active listeners. They realize listening motivates faster than great speeches. We earn our right to speak by listening.

(Don’t merely travel with them but get them to the destination)
Leaders are not travel agents who merely tell people about a destination. A leader’s people skills must result in their ability to take people to a destination. Our purpose isn’t to be liked by people, but to take them on a journey and to reach a goal.

Leading Difficult People
Every leader is going to face difficult people and draining positions. Every teacher can say the same thing about their classrooms. What’s more, almost every parent will face the same dilemma in their home. They will have kids who drain them because they are so much alike, or because they are so different, the adult reaches the end of their rope and has no strategy to deal with the child. The following ones are common to leaders, teachers and parents. Let me suggest a strategy for each difficult student, and what I’ve found to be a healthy strategy to lead them:

TYPE                                                            STRATEGY
1. The Sherman Tank: rides over people.    1. Consider the issue; stand up if important
2. Space Cadet: lives in another world        2. Find and develop their unique gifts
3. The Volcano: explosive, unpredictable    3. Remove from crowd, listen, be direct
4. The Thumb Sucker: self-pity, pouts        4. Don’t reward; show them to real trouble
5. The Wet Blanket: always down               5. Be honest, don’t cater or let them lead
6. Garbage Collector: attracts the worst       6. Challenge their statements; force honesty
7. The User: demands much time, energy    7. Set boundaries; require accountability

Ten Truths Every Leader Should Know About People
Throughout my career, I have learned people skills from some of mentors, including John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Shawn Mitchell and others. The following are a list of ten realities that I use as reminders of the basic needs my team members have:
1. People are often insecure. Give them confidence.
2. People like to feel special. Honor them.
3. People look for a better tomorrow. Give them hope.
4. People need to be understood. Listen to them.
5. People lack direction. Navigate for them.
6. People are needy. Speak to their needs first.
7. People get emotionally low. Encourage them.
8. People want to associate with success. Help them win.
9. People desire good relationships. Build community on your team.
10. People seek models to follow. Set the example for them.

Questions for Reflection
1. Are you a natural “people person”? Why do you believe this?
2. What’s the most challenging type of person for you to lead? How do you do it?

Thursday, 6 June 2013

You're Invited!

We are welcoming back several gappers from their year at work, play and travel.  Our gappers will be available to share their stories.  Our staff will be on hand to share more about gap years and the work our organization is involved in.

We would love to see you there.  Please pass along this invite to anyone who might be interested in learning more about our work or hearing the gappers' stories.

Kindly RSVP to Madelyn