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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Gab Talks in need of student leadership

    By Stephanie Foo

    Student Life Editor

    Five years ago, Gabrielino High School students Raymond Lam and Sharon Liu, inspired by a need for community, established the first ever Gab Talks: a forum where stories of change, failure, resilience, and humanity are shared to Gabrielino by Gabrielino. Year after year, students have continued this tradition, managing and promoting the week-long event. However, this year, the Associated Student Body (ASB) has taken over the organization of Gab Talks, breaking the tradition of a grassroots, student-run program. Given the organic origins of Gab Talks and the slew of benefits students gain from it, it is in Gabrielino’s best interests to return Gab Talks to the hands of the students.

    Encouraged by the format and impact of Ted Talks, Lam and Liu brought together a committee of senior and juniors in the hopes of humanizing the teachers and students of Gabrielino. After running the idea by Principal Sharon Heinrich, they began scouting faculty and students, organizing a week of speakers, and hosting the event. The program’s uniqueness stemmed from the students’ major role in the process.

    “Students had a huge voice in creating the week, what type of people [spoke], what the program looked like,” explained Lam.    

    This year, however, Gab Talks is mainly managed and headed by ASB, rather than the student hosts themselves. The administration saw a need for organization as well as a greater diversification of speakers. In an effort to open up the program to all of Gabrielino, an executive decision was made to have ASB oversee the event.

    “Because it was only a small group of students, we weren’t getting out to the entire campus,” stated Heinrich.

    While this decision intended to bring about order and a sense of inclusiveness to Gab Talks, the collaboration between ASB and the students is difficult to manage.

    “ASB, Jannelle and I tried our best to communicate with one another effectively, but it was difficult at times,” stated co-host of Gab Talks Sydney Jung, senior.

    At times, notifications for meetings were canceled or relayed at the last minute. Updates about speakers and applications were often delayed and schedules conflicted.

    Not only would keeping Gab Talks more student-centric echo the original purpose of the program, but it would also promote greater student leadership and initiative. Trusting students with greater responsibilities instill management and communication skills.

    According to Shawn Lazarus, president of Bentley University’s Graduate Student Association, “Holding a position in a student organization requires you to work with a team, effectively problem-solve, plan events”.

    While it is important for an advisor to facilitate and work with the students, it would be more beneficial and meaningful in the long run to return the responsibility to organize Gab Talks to the students. Rather than have ASB heavily involved in the preparations, a balance between order and student participation would benefit the students themselves and honor the roots of Gab Talks.

    To maintain organization in Gab Talks, students should collaborate with the advisor during the script screening process to ensure a safe and appropriate discussion. In terms of the theme, speaker line-up, and presentation of Gab Talks, the students should create their own vision of what they would like to present. Serving as a facilitator that sets appropriate, yet flexible boundaries for Gab Talks, ASB or any other advisor would aid the students in creating an event that mirrors the original purpose of Gab Talks back in 2012.

    “Gabrielino has amazing stories to tell and [Gab Talks] gives a platform that’s pushed by students and the community,” expressed Lam. “These are all Gabrielino stories.”

    When cultivating a campus filled with diversity, understanding, and unity, keeping a program that is not only community based, but also student-driven will foster skills and experience that students will cherish beyond high school.

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    Gab Talks in need of student leadership