May - June 2019
  • Day9

    On the Coast

    May 21, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 7 °C

    15) The next stop on our timeline was in Seyðisfjörður, where we did service work for the Blue Church and a nearby cemetery. The town itself was tiny and beautiful, as it was nestled in a valley right next to the ocean. Coming to and from Seyðisfjörður we had to take a treacherous mountain road; however, I think this was one of my favorite parts of the trip because the scenery was so beautiful while driving (when it wasn't covered by dense fog).Read more

  • Day9

    Music and Nature

    May 21, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    14) In regards to the Icelandic leader that you researched, what did you learn while we were in the country that helped you understand him or her in more depth?

    The Icelandic leader I researched was Björk, a popular Icelandic musician. The goal of several of her albums was to increase awareness for the beautiful geography of Iceland, such as the mountains, volcanos, glaciers, waterfalls, fjords, bays, and more. Much of Björk’s inspiration for the music she created came from the landscape she grew up around in Iceland. Prior to visiting the country, I was able to look at pictures to see why Björk was so passionate about the environment; however, the pictures did not completely capture the total experience of visiting the island and seeing all the landmasses for myself. While traveling throughout Iceland, I was able to view many different landscapes and geographical land masses—all of which make the country beautiful to view. It was breathtaking and I gained a better understanding of why Björk was so inspired by the landscape. I understood more completely why she would advocate for protecting the beauty around her, as it was truly unique and it would be a tragedy to see it destroyed by harsh, gray factories creating pollution. The environmentalist movement was an important piece of the context surrounding Björk and her actions as a leader. The movement impacted many of her values, such as a love for nature and music, and the education of the people of Iceland. Thus, her actions as a leader reciprocated these strong feelings and beliefs, demonstrated when she created several albums surrounding the environment, or when she publicly supported or disagreed with organizations making changes in the geography of Iceland.Read more

  • Day8

    Mývatn Nature Baths

    May 20, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 4 °C

    13) Iceland has several geothermal hot springs where tourists can swim and experience the pleasure of an outdoor pool in Iceland. We stopped at the Mývatn Nature Baths and relaxed for a couple of hours after a long day of work and travel.

  • Day8

    Making Connections

    May 20, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 3 °C

    12) What kind of influence will this trip have on you as a leader?

    Before traveling to Iceland, I had little to no exposure to life outside the United States. I had not traveled internationally so I did not know what to expect or how to manage all these new experiences. It was a whirlwind of new: new foods, a new language, new culture, new landscapes, new currency, new activities. Many times I felt overwhelmed by all of these foreign experiences, and I longed for a small taste of home. For the most part, though, I felt like a sponge: I tried to soak up as much information and details as I could about the country and its people. There was so much I had never been exposed to, like the fact that some children know four more languages than I did at the age of nine, or the fact that tea and coffee were served with every, single, meal (not just for breakfast). Understanding that there are people around the world that have completely different lifestyles than I do is important when leading a group of people. Deepening one’s sense of variation and building awareness of differences allows one to have empathy for their followers. By realizing not every person’s experiences are the same, the mind of a leader is broadened so they can better understand how to work cohesively with others. An important aspect of building awareness is recognizing the varied values of others and what motivates or inspires them. Experiencing a different culture firsthand instead of just reading or researching it allowed me as a leader to be more open to new ideas, new customs, new traditions. Before meeting Beggy at Daladýrđ, I would have never completely understood the importance of completing a task correctly because the livelihood of him and his family depended upon that project withstanding time and nature. Now, as a leader, I have a broader view of the world and the daily lives of the people living in it, increasing my ability to build stronger connections and relationships with those surrounding me.Read more

  • Day8

    Service Work in Iceland Part 2!

    May 20, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    11) What about the service experiences is different than the service we do on the team at home?

    Service work conducted in Iceland compared to service work in Winfield, Kansas is superficially similar. In both places, we do various tasks such as cleaning or repairing structures to help individuals or organizations in need. However, after close examination one obvious difference arises. At home, the people we are doing the service work for generally live in our community and we often see the impact of our work right away or over the following weeks as we drive by the sites where we were working. Differently, in Iceland, we were only conducting service at the sites for a couple of days and then we left with the idea that we would most likely never directly encounter that community again. One would generally assume that it would be harder to foster a connection to the work we were conducting but at both Daladýrđ and the “Meet Us Don’t Eat Us” service, our leaders took this into consideration and took extra effort to close this bridge so I almost felt I was making more of a difference in the work I was doing for the people in Iceland than I do at some of the service projects at home. This picture is of me carrying a kid (baby goat) out to the playground we built for Beggy and his family to celebrate the work we did at their petting zoo, which was one way they helped us feel the impact of our hard work.

    Kouzes and Posner suggest exemplary leaders should “treat every job as an adventure.” What have you learned about how to do this on this trip?

    In our service work at Daladýrđ, there were several aspects of this job that felt more like exciting opportunities than work. Using the job to learn as much as I could about the family we were working for and their home and livelihood made the experience more fulfilling and exciting than just mindless work. Learning to celebrate and have fun while doing work or on breaks was also crucial to enjoying the experience. Beggy exemplified this well when we would take breaks for Lolli-waffles or play with the animals. Having a positive mindset allows one to have a better experience with any job and many times, it does feel like an adventure.
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  • Day7

    Brushing the Goats

    May 19, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ☀️ 4 °C

    10) Upon arriving at the petting zoo, we were all given various assignments and chores to do. One of my favorite tasks was brushing the cashmere off the goats. It was definitely harder than I anticipated and we all had a good time chasing and holding down the rowdy goats.

  • Day5

    Keeping Up the Energy!!!

    May 17, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    9) In Iceland, coffee and tea are included with every meal; however, I found that all the sightseeing and service work we were completing still had me exhausted. On a day in Reykjavik, we visited the University of Iceland and discovered these delicious Swiss energy drinks. Unfortunately, I won't be able to find these drinks in the States so I will enjoy them now while I can.Read more

  • Day4

    Whaley Beautiful!

    May 16, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    8) As an exciting end to our day, we went whale watching and saw three whales! (humpback and minke) Seeing these amazing creatures in person after advocating for them earlier brought so much fulfillment.

  • Day4

    "Challenging the Process"

    May 16, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    7) What are you hoping to learn about yourself as a leader on this trip?

    Throughout my freshman year, I have studied the five leadership practices one should implement into their daily routine to be an exemplary leader. Recently the members of our leadership team conducted tests to discover which of the practices was our weakest. In my leadership inventory, my weakest practice was “Challenging the Process.” As a leader, I tend to shy away from new ideas and the unknown—I am usually not a risk taker and generally choose the course of action that I know will work, instead of inventing new ideas to experiment with. While in Iceland, I had several opportunities to try new things and take initiative in activities. On the trip, I hoped to learn to recognize the times when I fail to seize the opportunity to experiment and the best way to push myself to take those risks that present themselves. One important activity that challenged me was advocating for whales and approaching tourists to talk with them about whaling. Then we had to use our persuasion skills to urge the tourists to sign the petition. I discovered that when I had the support of my friends with me, I was more likely to take a risk because I knew they would have my back if something went wrong. However, when I had to convince the tourist myself, I was more likely to retreat and avoid the situation altogether. Another tendency I noticed was that being unprepared in situations created higher feelings of anxiety about taking initiative, as I did not feel qualified to speak on the subject matter. I did not have much time to prepare what I wanted to say to the tourists because I was not well educated about whaling—I had just learned about the industry several hours before. Yet, pushing through those feelings and getting the job done allowed me to see the success of our group. In the picture, my team posed after successfully convincing five tourists to sign the petition. Working together as a team allowed me to feel more confident in uncertainty, but I will not always have this luxury. Thus, it would be beneficial for me to practice being placed in impromptu situations so I can learn how to manage the feelings that arise when I feel vulnerable, as many of the times those feelings are the only obstacle holding me back.Read more

  • Day4

    Meet Us Don't Eat Us!

    May 16, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    6) Write about one Icelandic leader you have met: introduce him or her, describe the parts of the leadership system in relation to him or her.

    At our “Meet Us Don’t Eat Us” service work, we met Marvin (far right). He was one of the leaders of the campaign who advocated for the whales in the waters of Iceland. His job was under human resources and he worked directly with tourists, recruiting some to help increase awareness of the campaign and urging others to sign the petition. His goal was to inform tourists that eating whale meat is not an Icelandic tradition and one should not participate in this activity, as it is harmful to the environment. In his leadership system, he was the leader and his followers were the tourists he recruited. Their relationship was often one that was brief but both positive and fulfilling. Marvin and his followers were dedicated to the improvement of Iceland’s economy and natural resources. They wanted what was best for the whales and the people of Iceland. The context surrounding this system was that Iceland is only one of two countries left in the world that allows commercial whaling. Iceland’s economy also relies heavily upon the tourist industry and so there is a heavy tourist presence around the whales and many tourists are misinformed on the information surrounding whaling. The positive change this system is bringing about is increasing awareness about the damage whaling causes on Iceland’s economy and the whales directly. Their ultimate goal is to make commercial whaling illegal in the country.

    Describe one act of a servant leader that you have witnessed in Iceland

    Marvin, as mentioned above, was not only just a leader we met in Iceland but also a servant leader. When we began petitioning, he taught us the best way to be persuasive with the tourists and then trusted us to go out on our own and communicate. He gave us the opportunity to work with the tourists and experiment with different techniques, even though he was the most qualified at the task. When we finished, he put the spotlight on us, praising us for a job well done and lifting up our small achievements. His humility and positive attitude truly stuck out to me as important behaviors of a servant leader.
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