The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Student Facilitators Prepare for DLAB

The 2018 Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors cohort of facilitators consist of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. (Photo by May Nguyen)

The 2018 Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors facilitators gain a deeper understanding of the program and practice facilitation skills during training. (Photo by Hung Nguyen)

Jessica Jones '18 practices her facilitation skills with her co-facilitators during the training sessions. (Photo by Hung Nguyen)

The 2018 Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors facilitators engage with each other during their training sessions. (Photo by Hung Nguyen)

David Pack, Associate Director of Student Involvement, along with Eric Janisch, Program Officer for Co-Curricular Programs, guide facilitators through training in preparation for DLAB. (Photo by Hung Nguyen)

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How do you guide a small group of first-year students through conversations about values and exercises that facilitate self-reflection, especially when these topics can quickly become personal and controversial? Each year’s cohort of student facilitators for the Dartmouth Leadership Attitude and Behaviors (DLAB) program prepare to do just that through an intensive facilitation training program.  

Structured in a way that allows facilitators to experience an abbreviated version of each DLAB session, the training takes place the week before the program begins in January.

Co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Center and the Office of Student Life, DLAB is a program specifically designed to provide first-year students with the opportunity to engage in self-reflection with their peers. Facilitated by upperclassmen who help guide small groups through conversations and interactive exercises, DLAB seeks to broaden student’s understanding of their own values and those of their peers and Dartmouth itself. By connecting how these core beliefs transfer to actions and contribute to one’s identity, first-year students leave the six-week program with a deeper level of self-awareness. 

By providing ’21s with a space to think critically about their values and really examine how their everyday actions reflect these beliefs, facilitators serve as a resource to help their group of students demystify the abstract concepts of values and attitudes.

During training, students take turns facilitating the discussion, while their peers assume the role of participants. These truncated sessions allow facilitators to practice a variety of techniques and get valuable feedback from the program’s advisors, David Pack and Eric Janisch, and student program assistants who have previously gone through the training.

Danielle Okonta ’20 reminisced that a combination of laughter and reflective gazes dominated the training.

“We made the training what we wanted the program to be. Everyone did a good job of being authentic and respectful.”

Highlights of the training included an exercise that allowed students to get to know their co-facilitator and engage in meaningful discussion about their own values and those of the larger community. Creating comradery among their participants was underscored by Sadhana Hall, Deputy Director of the Rockefeller Center, who stressed the importance of subtle love and ensuring that first-year students feel valued as a part of the larger group.

Though initially skeptical about her ability to facilitate these discussions, Iliana Godoy ’20 cited Hall’s message as one that really resonated with her.

“After training, I feel confident in my ability to lead a group of first years through DLAB as they examine their values and how these values are reflected in their lives at Dartmouth.”

Others reaffirmed this sentiment and expressed gratitude to their co-facilitators, and program staff who helped them build their repertoire of facilitation skills that will stay with them beyond DLAB.

DLAB kicks off on January 15th with over 100 first-year students and 39 student facilitators now ready to meaningfully engage with their group of first-year students.

-Written by Alexandrea Keith ’20 DLAB Student Facilitator 

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences