Leading during 'stranger tides'
November 18, 2020
In her final address as Culver Girls Academy’s senior prefect, Lili Chalfant (West Lafayette, Indiana) told CGA members to “be a threat.”
Quoting the Kid Cudi song “In My Dreams,” Chalfant (left in photo) said, “In this world being a leader is trouble for the system we are all accustomed to. Being a leader in this day and age is being a threat.”
If being a leader against the systems “that use tyranny, cruelty, misogyny, and bigotry to suppress voices and silence the expression of equality and justice,” she said. “Speak the truth when silence is safer.”
Chalfant spoke at the CGA transition ceremony Sunday, where she handed over the leadership post to Carolina Jimenez Castro (Mexico City). Because of the COVID size restrictions, only the CGA Council leaders attended in person. Others participated or watched via Zoom.
“Use your power and your privilege to become a better, more compassionate leader for those who do not have the same opportunity,” she added. “Change is slow and it takes a lot of time. More importantly, it takes a lot of work.”
Everyone needs to work together and stand up for their beliefs, Chalfant said. “Effective leaders during upheaval do not hide in the shadows. We stand together. There is nothing more terrifying than a collective threat.”
She reminded the girls that at the beginning of the first rotation “it was better that all of us suffer a little so that none of us suffer a lot. I still stand by that statement even a third of the way through the year.”
She said she knows everyone is feeling “fatigued, overwhelmed, anxious, and maybe even sad.” But that fatigue is “an opportunity to evaluate how much we want to make change. Let us challenge the cultural construct that allows us to criticize and compare each other. Let us lead with love.”
“We have to work together. We have to get past our own insecurities, our own worries, and own biases,” she finished. “If we can open up a little more and connect with each other, I think we can create the world that we want to live in. We won’t need to be a threat and we can love each other. We can belong.”
Chalfant introduced Castro (photo, right), who called herself “just another CGA girl that is finding who she is and constantly making mistakes.”
A member of the sailing team, Castro set the second rotation theme as “CGA on Stranger Tides.” She told CGA members that “we must navigate through these stranger tides of uncertainty and challenges together.
“Every winter comes with its challenges,” she explained, “from polar vortexes to pandemics. Through it all, we have pushed through and keep doing so. Culver has taught us to face adversity and it is now that we must put our game faces on. It is the way we face this challenge that will define who we are, what we stand for and how our year goes.”
Entering the winter, when the days are cold and not as sunny, she told the girls they just need to hold on until spring comes “because there will come a day when a ray of sun shines bright” and students will be able to take off their masks. That will then be followed by the flowers and hats being thrown into the air on June 6. “It will all have been worth it.”
She pointed out that Culver students are “navigating one day at a time through the unknown, challenging the circumstances and setting the example for other schools.” And, she added, it is important to remember to follow the safety guidelines and support each other.
“Take it one second at a time,” Castro said. “Because we are all in this together, I implore you to sit tight, tighten your masks, raise the sails and help me navigate through these stranger tides.”