Book Review: An Aid to Advocacy: Getting to Yes with Yourself by William Ury - Lorie Raihala, WATG Board Member
For parents, advocating for an academically gifted child can be a highly emotional affair. Your child’s welfare hangs in the balance, but administrators often have little time and resources to spend on children who’ve already met grade-level standards and benchmarks. Teachers working to serve wide ranges of learning needs may see you as “ambitious parents” pushing their progeny to race through material to win “advanced” status. Educators at school don’t see what mothers and fathers witness at home, and they may not recognize the social and emotional toll that the “regular school program” takes on your child. To them, your child looks fine. But you see the once vibrant youngster withdrawn and lethargic, or cranky and angry, or lonely and desperate from school days spent trapped in “age appropriate” instruction, discussion, and activities–week in, week out, year after year.
Does this strike a nerve? Do you feel your heart pound, your muscles clench, your stomach churn? If so, then William Ury has written the book for you: Getting to Yes with Yourself and Other Worthy Opponents (HarperCollins, 2015). If the idea of another round of school meetings makes you sweat, then Getting to Yes can help you move to “the balcony–a mental and emotional place of perspective, calm, and self-control” (21). This is the first in a series of steps that Ury has honed over years of high-stakes mediation in “boardroom battles, labor conflicts, and civil wars around the world” (dust jacket). Cofounder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, Ury draws from compelling personal and professional experience to illustrate an effective way to ground yourself and re-frame your approach to conflict and difficult conversations.
Ury’s message resonates not just as a set of tips for negotiating, but as a profoundly inspiring philosophy of life. He advises that this version of Getting to Yes should be viewed as the prequel to his earlier, widely acclaimed work with his mentor, Roger Fisher, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In (1981). The first Getting to Yes, which served as “one of the primary business texts of modern America” for three decades, offered a “proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict” (Amazon). Ury’s more recent, solo work has grown out of his meantime realization that, in the words of Walt Kelly’s insightful possum, Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” With lively and accessible prose, Ury guides his reader into a penetrating consideration of the human condition. He anchors his chapters with trenchant quotes from Goethe, Frankl, Emerson, and Wittgenstein and gives examples that range from Nelson Mandela to his own daughter. Ultimately, he offers up a way of living that cannot fail to strengthen the fabric of human existence (“win-win-win”) and move humanity in the direction of peace and redemption.
But I digress. Practically speaking, Ury’s process calls for cultivating habits that can help maintain a sense of calm and well-being in the face of potentially painful discussions–in our case, petitioning for “services or activities not ordinarily provided” from school officials who seem to hold sway over your children’s (and thus your own) health and happiness. By “getting to yes with yourself,” you will be less susceptible to emotional triggers and impulses that sabotage your child’s (and thus your own) best interests. Holding fast to the balcony and anchored in the confidence that “life is on your side,” you will be more likely to recognize spontaneous openings and act on flashes of creative inspiration, and this can unleash unexpected possibilities that satisfy both sides. From his professional work as a mediator, Ury recounts acute situations in which he has not known how the parties would ever find their way out of the wilderness of mutual hurt and hostility. Yet by maintaining his own commitment to “Yes,” he has time and again seen light break into the darkness and illuminate paths toward conciliation and relief from years of public feuding and civil war.
Intrigued? Then read! You have nothing to lose and much to gain from this highly fortifying guide.
I love the notion of a challenge and have always been eager to explore the unknown. The nature of scientific research excites and inspires me. I view the scientific method as a lifelong passion to bring about innovative and ground breaking change. I find it peaceful, satisfying and challenging all at once. Each one of us utilizes the scientific method through logical reasoning and problem solving on a daily basis. Ever since the concept was born in the 17th century, mankind has knowingly and unknowingly used the scientific method to confront and solve the many problems humanity faces. I would like to employ the scientific method to answer and solve problems dealing with the human body because I am passionate about health research and medicine. The workflow of diagnosis, treatment and the prevention of disease is one of the best practical applications of the scientific method.
Participating in science fair is a perfect opportunity to express and demonstrate my keen interest in conducting biomedical related research. Science fair participation has improved my public speaking and communication skills and enhanced my ability to present complex, scientific concepts in a concise and informative manner. I have been participating in science fair since the 8th grade. My research primarily focuses on developing novel therapeutics to combat coronary artery disease and the detrimental effects of chemotherapy upon the cardiovascular system.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to present a segment of my aforementioned research at the 2016 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix, Arizona. Having won the Best of Fair - 1st Place Grand Award at the Badger State Science and Engineering Fair (BSSEF) in March, I am excited to return again this year as a Finalist of the 2017 Intel ISEF fair in Los Angeles, California.
Participating in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair was not only a great platform to enhance my research and academic interests but also an excellent opportunity to meet other like-minded young research scientists. A major theme exemplified in many of the keynote addresses was that as an ISEF Finalist, we were amongst our future peers and collaborators. Taking the message to heart, I was able to interact and develop rich connections with other Finalists, not only from the United States but from around the world.
As for my future goals, I have been passionate about pursuing a career in medicine ever since I can remember. I have fond memories of my father taking me on "rounds" as a child to the hospital and introducing me to the medical/graduate students, nurses and fellow physicians. Ideally, my long- term goal is to combine my love for medicine and research and pursue a MD/PhD. The thought of combining research and clinical based medicine is thrilling and poses a plethora of varied research questions. The possibilities of discovery and innovation are limitless.
By Nabeel Quryshi
University School of Milwaukee
Junior in High School
1st place at the 2017 Badger State Science and Engineering Fair
On June 11 of last year I boarded a Frankfurt-bound flight, kicking off what would end up being a 222-day odyssey abroad. To give a bit of background, my name is Emilie Lozier, and I am a third-year student at Oberlin College. With majors in French and chemistry to contend with, I devised a plan a couple years ago to find a way to go abroad, keep up with my disparate areas of study, and still somehow graduate on time. This is how it has worked out so far.
My journey is in three parts. The first phase was this summer, during which time I pursued an internship in glass chemistry at the Otto Schott Institute for Materials Research in Jena, Germany. Wanting to find a way to bring chemistry into my study abroad experience, I applied for the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst’s RISE program, which matches American, British, and Canadian undergraduates in the sciences with academic and industrial researchers throughout Germany. My project was to be completed under the supervision of a Ph.D. student, and concerned the compositional analysis of medieval window glass.
Although my German was elementary at best and my experience with glass chemistry even more tenuous, the ten weeks I spent in Jena taught me a lot about how to use what resources I had to expand my base of knowledge and overcome everyday obstacles. I had never received formal instruction in glass chemistry, but the classes I had taken thus far paired with a translated German textbook on the subject gave me all the tools I needed to move forward. And while the work I did in the lab was usually in English, my forays into grocery stores, doctors’ offices, parks, and bouldering gyms boosted my confidence with German and allowed me to make the most of my limited vocabulary.
At the end of August, after a brief interlude of travel, the second phase of my journey began. This time however, chemistry went on hold as I stepped onto the platform at the TGV station in Aix-en-Provence and sought out the woman who was to be my host mother for the next three and a half months. The program awaiting me in France offered a classic semester abroad with an increased focus on cultural and linguistic immersion. To that end I spent the entire semester as a boarder in a French family, tutored local middles schoolers, and took one of my courses directly enrolled at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, a prominent political science institution.
Throughout my time in Aix, people at home and abroad asked me if I was bored without chemistry, if the French classes I was taking weren’t rigorous enough to be satisfying. The fact of the matter was that so much of what I learned drew from the non-academic challenges I faced each time I encountered a social difference. Taken as a whole, my semester was not so much a time of book learning as it was an opportunity to develop a sense of cultural relativism. I may not have gained credits towards my chemistry major, but I never once felt that what I was doing was a waste of time, or a diversion from my career path.
In spite of this, there were times when I worried I wasn’t taking full advantage of the opportunity before me. Some evenings I would be exhausted after a day of homework and French and social missteps and decide to stay home and sleep rather than throw myself into Aix’s nightlife. Other times, I’d fumble a phrase and find myself being addressed in English, which both humiliated me and left me wondering whether my language skills had improved at all. However, the moment I left Aix to embark on the final portion of my trip, the true extent of my development emerged in high relief.
At the time of writing, I am still in the midst of this third leg, which consists of a month of travel in France, Spain, and Italy with a group of friends from Oberlin. After a few days in Paris, we made our way to Barcelona, where we spent nearly two weeks of the holiday season. Having left the city only recently, we’re now in Granada and will soon be Italy-bound. In addition to giving myself a chance to recover a bit before my return to Oberlin, this trip has given me the affirmation I had been lacking in Aix. While in Paris, my facility with French eased my group’s interactions in restaurants, grocery stores, and museums, and even during a memorable evening at the 18th arrondissement’s police prefecture. This impression was only strengthened by our transition to Spain, which highlighted how functional I had been in France, and how dependent I now was on the Spanish-speakers in our group.
When I return to the US in two weeks’ time, I’m sure that I will see changes in myself that even now are hidden. Still, there are some things that I can already tell will be different. For one thing, I’m not satisfied. My French has improved, and yet I’m even more aware of all the ways in which it could improve further. Along with this is a desire to expand my base of languages, and only travel to places where I can communicate in the local language, rather than depending on the ubiquity of English. Finally, after having lived so long abroad, I have a better understanding of how my values are not universal, and how I can adjust my behavior to respect and accommodate the cultural patterns I encounter. These are not things I could have learned if I had stayed at my home institution, and whatever the challenges, I’m grateful to have had this interlude in my studies.