June 24 – June 26 (2011)
Participants: Melody Gu, Raymond Van, Calvin Wong
Special Thanks to Winston Wu, Edmond Gor, & the CACA
As the newly arrived mentees stepped onto the dormitories of Rice University, they were immediately greeted by welcoming mentors and anticipated peers who were already beginning to introduce themselves to each other. After settling down in the assigned dorms, all participants reported to the cafeteria (General Assembly Room), where they sat next to unfamiliar faces. Although many were too timid to socialize, the extroverted mentors and mentees prevented silence by joking around and playing various multiplayer games such as the card game Mafia. Soon, a room full of blank faces transformed into a room full of animated and jubilant expressions. However, the boisterous and blissful clamor soon came to a halt when the first task was presented: each person is assigned an action to mimic (such as “pretend to be a piece of furniture” or “things you do on vacation”). The whole room must creatively think of an action, so the mentors can discern the communicated move to assign each person into the appropriate group. By not using verbal communication, everyone had to find a different way to express their thoughts – a mini activity that opened many individuals and forced people to think outside the box.
After being assigned to the appropriate teams, each team played ice breakers to befriend each other. To lift team spirit and further emphasize teamwork, each team met in a private area to think of a group dance and chant (Activity 1.1). In the small groups consisting of around 12 people, we also made “Warm Fuzzies” (Activity 1.0): a personally decorated bag with one’s own individual name and drawings to display on a wall downstairs. Everyone is allowed to write something to each other and stick it in each other’s bag. At the end of the YLC, everyone takes home his or her bag and reads the pleasant messages sent to each other. Additionally, each member decorated his or her own masquerade mask (Activity 1.2) to wear during Prom 3000, which is at Saturday night. Finally, the last small group activity pertained to making a “Wild Card”: a super villain with super powers – a villain that will later be used in the Murder Mystery activity on Saturday. These first few activities promoted innovation, assertiveness, creativity to express individualism, emphasizing this year’s new theme: “Don’t Hate, Innovate!”
The next day, mentees woke up as early at 7:30 AM, excited to be here at the conference. The day begins with breakfast provided for the mentees. Breakfast includes anything a college student would expect: variety of fruits, cereal, bagels, omelets, and much more! After all the mentees and mentors had eaten breakfast, all 12 groups introduced themselves with their innovative dance moves they had previously invented the day before. All groups showed great enthusiasm and were ready for the activities of the day. Since this year’s theme was different from the previous year’s, there was more emphasis on imagination and vivacity. Mentors revealed the first activity of the day with a video they had put together during their mentor camp. The video discussed super villains attending a school called Evil High, a place where they are trained to be villains. However, one character, Bad Bieber, wishes to drop out of school to attend Good Guy High. His classmates, teacher, and principal are not happen about this because they fear that he will share their secrets with the students of Good Guy high. The video ends with Bad Bieber found dead. Mentors and mentees of each group were told to come up with a four to five minute skit of how the murder played out. The activity also required each group to include a Wild Card super villain that will play a part in the skit and to include 3 clues from the video that may have lead to the ending. On Sunday, the groups will be judged on originality, acting skills, innovation, and creativity. Groups also completed Situation Puzzles and Free Brainstorming (Activity 3.1) to help individuals think about the skits.
After a very brain-stimulating activity, everyone made their way to the General Assembly room to meet a diverse panel of speakers – speakers including a chef, a policeman, a software manager, and a singer. First, the very talented and independent singer/guitarist Charlene Kaye performed a couple songs for the YLC. Then, the panel speakers described their occupations and explained why they chose passion over the traditional money-making lifestyle that their parents wanted them to have. The speakers further emphasized the importance of individuality and resilience. Surprisingly, KevJumba’s, a famous Youtube star’s, dad was there to converse about the importance of understanding others and following one’s dreams. After the panel speakers finished talking and the audience finished its last question, a hoard of people conglomerated around the speakers to take pictures and ask questions. Many bought Kaye’s new CD; however almost everyone swarmed towards Mr. Wu (KevJumba’s dad) to take pictures and to get autographs. While many were still chatting with the speakers, tacos and hamburgers were being served.
After lunch, Crime Scene Viewing & Concept Maps (Activity 5.0) helped the 12 groups work on the details of their skits by showing every mentee pictures of the crime scene, which includes objects (which can be used as evidence in the skit) found around Evil High. Groups are also asked to organize what they saw and how each character was related to Bad Bieber by making a concept map. Because each mentee was only allowed a couple seconds to look at the animated crime scene and because each mentee had a different scene to view, everyone had to pay attention to the details to later piece together a concept map as a team. This activity stressed the knowledge needed to manipulate the information into a congruous story.
After this activity, mentors introduce Writing with a Writer or Inventive Inventions (Activity 6.0). Students were divided up into two groups to hear from one of the two speakers. Speaker 1 was Mr. Henry Chang, a crime mystery writer who wrote of his lifelong experiences in New York City’s Chinatown. We started with an icebreaker with Mr. Chang: he gave us a list of words and each mentee had to think of a word given. He went on talking about knowing the characters and the story structures. From this workshop, mentees learned that in order to capture their readers, they must incorporate drama in the first 50 pages of the book.
Mr. Ross Winn, a Mechanical Design Engineer for NASA, lead the other activity: Inventive Inventions. He showed the other half of the group how to use the tools of today to create the products of tomorrow and explained how, in his job, he had to be very avant-garde to survive in today’s fast-pace, technological society. To be innovative, he said, one must manipulate today’s information to create something useful or entertaining. Mr Winn began to complain about the rigidity of a Nerf Sword, saying that its design is not safe for children. Thus, by being innovative, he combined a Styrofoam pool noodle with PVC pipes to create a harmless sword that does not hurt upon forceful contact. After a couple volunteers built three more Styrofoam swords, a couple mentees offered to duel each other in an aggressive yet safe arena. By being original and generating one’s own ideas with current materials and information, Mr Winn saved more money making four Styrofoam swords than buying one Nerf Sword. This activity taught mentees the importance of being innovative in today’s society.
Activity 7.0 – Cerebral Relay Race. Groups compete against each other through a series of games to gain points. Games included keeping a yoga position for 10 seconds and keeping 2 balloons in the air with one hand. Each mentee also got to face paint one of their mentors. In the end, Group 5 attain the most points, giving them the best seats at Café Y and Group 4’s mentor was crowned Prom Queen for having the best face-painted design. Activity 7.0 accented the significance of teamwork and creativity in a timed situation.
Students now were told to go back to their dorm rooms and get ready for dinner. he theme of this year’s semi-formal dinner was Prom 3000: prom in the year 3000. Most mentees chose to just come in semi-formal wear; however, many mentors dressed up and were very creative with their futuristic costumes. Mentors also had to serve the students dinner.
Café Y comes after dinner. This event gives students and mentors the opportunity to show off their incredible talents. Performances include skits, piano and guitar playing, and even Chinese yo-yo playing. Finally, YLC had its annual eating contest, which three mentees and three mentors had to face off against each other. Just like last year, the mentees were victorious.
Before we ended the day, groups now were given time to practice their skits for Sunday one last time. After finalizing all the points of the skit, students socialized and danced at Prom 3000. Many mentees took this time to write Warm Fuzzies for their new friend. Curfew was pushed back an hour to give students more time to dance and relax from a long day. Everyone had so much fun and did not want the day to end.