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August 9, 2019

Intersession Planning 2019

By: Isabel Salsona, and Lance Ting

            Forty-six Gabayanos participated in various activities during the three-day Intersession Superplanning held at Ateneo de Manila University and at Lifezen Resort, Calamba, Laguna last July 29-31 2019.

The event spanned three days, each focusing on specific agendas. The first two days focused on planning for the first semester. The last day focused on improving leadership skills and commitment sessions.

SAGA, the Executive Board of Ateneo Gabay, set the mood for the entire Superplanning by introducing the word Sonder—the realization that every passerby, every stranger, and every background character in the world lives a complex life.

A shared Learning Experiences (SLE) entitled “A Gabayano’s Story”  was held where, to be able to comprehend Sonder, participants created personalities and a narrative on how they were to join Gabay.

One of the activities during the first day was the World Cafe, a constant during Planning sessions; this year, things were changed a bit by allowing more time per station. It involved four stations—one each for the Member Formation, Academic, Scholars Adjustment, and Education Operations Committees—where participants were given an hour to talk about the said committees’ projects. Most of the projects discussed were new initiatives, such as the Scholars Adjustment Committee’s Kuwentong Scholar and the Academic Committee’s Coalition of Ateneo Tutoring Services. The first-time planners were also able to provide fresh insights on older projects like the Education Operations Committee’s Alternative Class Program and Member Formation’s talent pools.

Another highlight of the Superplanning was the Project Pitch, where participants were to make a pre-project presentation for an assigned Gabay project. Held on the second day, it gave members a firsthand experience of what goes through before an actual project is executed. Groups were judged based on their proposal’s clarity and feasibility; Jolly Rucio and Rizzie Rapada won first place for their presentation on Kuwentong Scholar. To supplement the Project Pitch activity, another SLE was held. It was headed by Mark dela Paz, where members created a certain pattern using a rope while blindfolded, with only one member giving directions at any given moment. This SLE’s goal was to simulate the disconnect that projects experiences each time the execom turns over.

“As a first-timer, I learned how to conceptualize a project that would fit SAGA’s vision and the organization’s objectives. I guess my main contributions were ideating about the theme and generating consumer insights,” shares Raver De Guzman, who placed second for his Bookworms project pitch along with Jihannah Genova and Gabrielle Bande.

The third day of the Superplanning began with a leadership module headed by Igor Garcia. He shared a new approach to leadership that could be applied in and out of Gabay. He focused on the four birds or personalities in every group dynamic: the assertive hawk, the thinking owl, the cooperative dove, and the passionate peacock. Each type of bird is important in any group dynamics because they complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. A hawk is a quick decision-maker and helps the project keep moving forward, but lacks fact checking, cohesiveness with members, and passion. An owl loves organizing things and bases their decision on facts, but works slowly due to inability to decide quickly. They also lack the ability to work with others and lack passion in their work. Doves provide the cohesiveness in any group dynamic by linking the other birds through their ability to work well with them. They lack, however, the decision making of a hawk, knowledge of an owl, and passion of a peacock. The peacocks inspire members with their passion on the group work, without them, members would eventually burn out.

“The commitment sharing struck me the most. Hearing each other’s stories, I got to further think about bakit nga ba ako nagtataya? I also got further inspired by the upperclassmen, giving me more drive to continue with what I’m doing right now for Gabay,” answered another first-timer, Kurt De Los Santos, when asked about the most memorable SLE for him, referring to the emotional four-hour session where planners shared their Gabay journey in relation to the random item that they had picked. Participants were able to hear one another’s reasons for joining and staying in Gabay. Very much connected with the day one take-away about Sonder, each one had different backgrounds and characteristics as unique and complex as the next person.

Darwin Tesion, President of Ateneo Gabay, gave his State of Gabay Address (SOGA) about his ups and downs—like giving his best for the organization yet losing the first time he ran for an Executive Board position —and remembering to ask himself: “What is your reason for staying in Gabay?

Aside from the more serious sessions, leisure activities like the Group Dynamics (Super GD) and Socials Night also took place during the event.

Eighty percent of the participants were first-time planners, so it was expected that, aside from them contributing new ideas to Ateneo Gabay, they would learn more about  the organization as well. Through activities such as the project pitches, they were given an idea about the upcoming projects and their value to Gabay.

Despite several obstacles such as a long delay in transportation on the first day and a two-hour brownout on the second day, the Intersession Superplanning was able to continue due to SAGA’s time management skills and adaptability.

Superplanning is always different every time because of the yearly changes in priorities of the organization—for instance, five  ago, Superplanning’s focus was on constitutional change. Moreover, the people that attend gradually change throughout the years as new people come in, and old members graduate. What remains is the advocacy that has stayed constant throughout the years and will continue to do so for many years to come, uniting all past and future participants.

The 2019 Intersession Superplanning ended with the traditional trust fall and Gabay song, duly reminding the participants about the spirit of pagtataya.

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