SA Weekly – 130 RCs and ECs in 2 Boston Public Middle Schools

On September 16, 2010, 300 seventh graders looked in 300 mirrors and discovered leaders. With the help of RC students and a curriculum developed specially for the Impact Initiative, these seventh graders at Timilty and Frederick-Pilot Middle Schools realized they had the potential to be influential leaders.

The curriculum was designed with dual objectives. According to professor Zeynep Ton, faculty advisor “We wanted the middle school students, or Super Sevens as we call them, to reflect on what it means to be a leader and to be inspired to be the leaders they can be. We wanted our students, to get to know the community around them, to develop both compassion and respect for that community, and to see service as part of leadership.” We asked a few RCs who participated in the Impact Initiative to reflect on their experiences.

What motivated you to join the Impact Initiative?
The Impact Initiative offered HBS RCs an opportunity to connect with Boston, the business school’s host community, and to do so in a way that made a positive influence on the lives of students at an important time in their educational and personal growth.ÿ As a native of Boston whose parents met while teaching in the Boston Public School System, this was a meaningful chance for me to break out of the “HBS bubble”.ÿ Our contributions were small compared with those that teachers and school administrators make each day, but they still felt worthwhile.ÿ

The Impact Initiative was also a chance to connect with fellow HBS students in a new way – I was quite impressed with the way the RCs rose to the occasion – many of them would make great teachers!ÿ The social opportunities in the first few weeks of HBS often seem unlimited, but the Impact Initiative stands out for being both a great social opportunity and one that creates value for others.

What was the experience like?
We joined a classroom of seventh grade students and then broke into smaller groups.ÿ I was teamed with a fellow RCer and four seventh-grade female students.ÿ We discussed leadership broadly, but also how each of the students had overcome personal challenges and were leaders in their own right. I was particularly impressed with one student who had immigrated from Somalia – at a young age, she had survived and succeeded after being thrown into an entirely new culture.ÿ Hers was an inspirational story, one that puts into context the more humble challenges (cases, career decisions, etc.) that we face as RCs.

.and your most memorable moment?
The most memorable moment was presenting the students with a small wrapped box that held an “image of a leader” – then watching the students open the box and see that inside was a mirror, which reflected the image of themselves.ÿ

Another memorable moment was hearing the students describe their thoughts on well-known leaders (President Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Edison, etc.).ÿ These somewhat simplified descriptions effectively conveyed the “big dreams” that these leaders had and how they had set out to achieve them.ÿ In the students’ words, “Martin Luther King ended racism”.ÿ We know the world isn’t so perfect, but hearing these words from a seventh graders helps one think about what he or she might want to accomplish with our “one wild and precious life.”

Anything else you would like to add?
HBS SA Co-Presidents Justine and Brett poured themselves into this effort, and deserve a tremendous amount of credit for making the day a success.ÿ Their efforts to connect HBS students with residents of Boston are commendable, and I know Justine and Brett will continue to make such efforts throughout the year. I hope this is the beginning of a deeper engagement between HBS and its surrounding community.

What motivated you to join the Impact Initiative?
ÿHaving been a mentor to eighth graders and a second grade volunteer reader in inner city Birmingham, AL, I have seen the positive impact one can have on young people by developing a trusting relationship in which a child can develop socially and emotionally. It was also a great way to connect with and, in my opinion, to fulfill a responsibility one has to his local community. Getting beneath the surface of Birmingham was important for me to call it home for two years and I intend to have the same notion of Boston. Finally, many of these students have a jaded view, if any, of business. It is important for us to share our own stories and experiences so as to encourage them to pursue a business-oriented goal if they so choose.

What was the experience like?
ÿThe HBS Impact Initiative was a very introspective experience for both the Super Sevens and HBS students including myself.ÿ Each of us shared our own unique story of a difficult personal experience or challenge in our lives and what we did to work through the situation. It was hard for some but a great benefit nonetheless in seeing the breadth of situations and circumstances from which a leader can be developed. The next generation certainly does not lack leadership experience or abilities and I am confident that, through our experience, we will all be able to find new avenues in which to make a positive difference. Mentoring seventh graders in your own backyard is a great place to start.

.and your most memorable moment?
My most memorable experience was our discussion about who each of us admired as a leader. Each of the students had a great example and something in common with their ideal leader. It was through the process of conversation though that we identified the actual leadership characteristics. Understanding that the Super Sevens themselves either can possess or develop these qualities and impact their own immediate surroundings was a result more than worth the time invested.ÿÿ

Anything else you would like to add?
Brett and Justine deserve a ton of credit. I was also impressed by the faculty commitment – Professor Ton and Dean Nohria – to making this happen.

What motivated you to join the Impact Initiative?
I have always thought that service and positive involvement in the community is an important form of leadership. Spending time with kids is particularly rewarding, because the more you try to teach them something and communicate your values, the more you learn about yourself. There is something uniquely sincere about the connections we build with kids. ÿÿ

What was the experience like?
I was so impressed by just how much effort and planning surrounded the leadership messages we were trying to send. All of the exercises and the interactions were designed to instill a desire for them to become leaders. It was such an honor to be part of this initiative, not only because I love interacting with kids, but also because it taught me how critical it is to structure your volunteering impact. We were there for 2 hours, but that short amount of time belies the true impact of our message.

.And your most memorable moment?
Sharing stories with the kids about our families. It is often surprising how frank and honest a child can be about significant moments and tragedies in his or her life. It was a great lesson in empathy.

Anything else you would like to add?
A big thank you to everyone who organized this for us. Hopefully we can find a way to continue our involvement with the schools.

What motivated you to join the Impact Initiative?
Being international student who just moved to the US, Iÿwanted to start being engaged in community development activities in Boston but it was very hard for me to do so at that point of the semester when the RC year is just kicking off. The initiative provided an easy first stepÿto start making a difference in my community.

What was the experience like?
It was amazing! The training was very helpful in setting our expectations and providing us with resources for preparation. The SA did great job in planning and executing the day and in making sure that both RCs and the school has clear expectations.

The day was very impactful for me and for my colleagues: the children were very open to share their experiences and talk about their hopes, challenges, and fears. As we (RCs) shared our stories and talked about leadership qualities, we could see that some of them have strong leadership potential, and I really hope we could engage with them more in the future.

.and your most memorable moment?
When my colleague and I told the kids that we go to HBS, one of them said: “isn’t that a lot of money?!,” after a very diplomatic, very well-thought of answer from my colleague, I remember that it was the same comment I used to get from underprivileged kids in Cairo when I told them I go to the American University in Cairo, which made me smile. The incident resonated well with me as it was a symbol for the commonalities kids share regardless of geographies, ethnicities, and backgrounds: a key take away of the day.

Anything else you would like to add?
It was pretty hard to keep the kids focused on a specific topic, I have huge respect for all teachers more than ever!

September 27, 2010
Want to Sponsor The Harbus?

You can sponsor the Harbus website to reach the Harvard Community. Learn more.


We are addicted to WordPress development and provide Easy to using & Shine Looking themes selling on ThemeForest.

Tel : (000) 456-7890
Email :