Today I’m here to talk to you about donship and what it’s like being a don. As a current don for Vanier Residence, I’ve got to say that donship has been one of the most exhausting yet rewarding, and life-changing experiences I’ve had so far in my life. When I first applied to donship, I had absolutely NO idea what it would entail, but I knew I liked the idea of living on residence (come on, everyone loves the benefit of having a free room). I didn’t sign up for the free room though, but to be challenged. I just wasn’t prepared for the amount of challenge it would bring me! Becoming a Don has submerged me into this concept of Residence Life and Don Life, and I was introduced to a whole new world which revolved around empowerment and leadership, a world that I had no idea existed six months ago. I’m here to share with you five important things I learned when becoming a don.
1. Time Management: Being a don takes up a huge chunk of your time between one-on-ones, bulletin boards, meetings, casual interactions with your residents, programming (active and passive), and the list goes on and on. Time management is a crucial tool in becoming a don because it assists you in managing everything that needs to get done, while having time to practice self-care (which is ESSENTIAL for donship) and focus on your academics (which is important to any student) . Donship is estimated to take up to 15 hours of your time weekly, but in reality, being a Don is a 24 hour job. If you’re planning on applying to become a don, make sure to sharpen your time management skills through attending workshops, watching time management videos or even reading a time management book!
2. Self Care: As I stated in number one, self care is ESSENTIAL for donship. Becoming a don means offering support to your residents through a wide variety of cases including but not limited to: alcohol use, conflict and mediation, assisting international students in homesickness and mental health issues. To be able to support your residents to the best of your ability, you must first support yourself through scheduling periods of self-care. A good way to know when you need self-care is recognizing warning signs of stress, being aware of your own vulnerabilities and acknowledging your limits/ability of skill. Self-care can be anything you enjoy doing such as: reading a book, meditation, going for a walk or listening to your favorite music. Read this Self-Care DIY for more info on how to self-care and why it’s so important! http://www.shamelessmag.com/stories/2012/11/self-care-diy-how-just-you/1/
3. Empowerment: One of my top favorite things about becoming a don is the chance to empower the residents in my building. As a Don, you are given so many options on how to empower your residents through Resident Recognition, RLAAF Fees, One-on-One’s and casual student interactions. It’s important to keep the FISH Principle in mind when being a Don: 1. Play 2. Be There 3. Make Their Day 4. Choose Your Attitude. Empowering your residents is a two-way process in which you and the resident both end feeling happy! A way you can empower your residents is allowing your residents to be co-facilitators in your programming through asking them what type of event they want to see, inviting them to help coordinate a particular house event or even encouraging your resident to see the DLLO on how to become further involved with residence. To read more on the FISH principle: http://www.charthouse.com/content.aspx?nodeid=22610
4.Resilience: There will be times where you have spent hours upon hours planning the perfect program, only to find that two people showed up to the actual event. Or you can be working on making that perfect bulletin board for your house, only to have it unnoticed by your residents. Being a Don has taught me to accept that these sort of things are bound to happen and all you can do is dust off your shoulders, get off the floor and try again! Donship is all about resilience, and not letting things get to you personally, because chances are, there’s nothing personal about it!
5. Role Modelling: As a Don you will be put into many communities: your house community, your residence community, your don team community, your general don community and the residence life community on a whole. It’s important to realize that as a role model you play a key factor in these communities and how you behave may halt your community or enrich it. As I said before, Donship is a 24 hour job and it doesn’t end when you leave campus. It’s also important to note that there is no difference between your online identity and your public identity. An analogy which was given to us in don training was the fishbowl effect: as a peer leader it’s important to be conscientous of your actions, because much like a fish in a fish bowl, your actions are always visible to others on AND off campus!
Don Hiring is coming up in December so make sure to keep these in mind!
All the best!