You have skills. You have talents. You have gifts. We all do. We are each shaped individually and uniquely. Such diversity illustrates a great deal of creativity!
Creativity is expressed in different ways for different people. Some are creative in mind, able to brainstorm and easily come up with original ideas; others are creative in heart, able to craft art, song, dance and words. Some are consistently creative, habitually stepping out of the box; others are spontaneously creative, sensitively following the impromptu and whimsy in life. It does not matter what type of creativity you have as much as it does to recognize it and own it. It is fruitless for you to try to be like someone else when you could be thriving in your own strengths.
As RAs, we have the privilege of using our gifts for the sake of others. Furthermore, we have the privilege of practicing this now so we can continue to do it throughout our lives. It is our role to do the creative best with what we have and who we are.
At times it is easy to feel limited. Amazing ideas may come; still budgets, deadlines, resources, support, scheduling, and planning are a reality that must be taken into consideration. So, how is an RA supposed to be both creative and sensible?
The Five C’s of Creativity
Consider. In this first stage, identify the problem, need, or want at hand. Gather information necessary for taking steps forward. Set up criteria for an acceptable solution. Talk to residents about their wants, get permission from you RD, find out your budget, research, get advice, brainstorm the possibilities.
Contemplate. Next. Take a step back from the issue. The best ideas often come when you’re not trying to think about it. Let the stimuli around you naturally give you “light bulb” moments.
Clarify. Third. Take the active steps necessary to usher the initiative into completion. Plan how you will make an idea into a reality. Purchase supplies, create an itinerary, enlist help, make a checklist for shopping & set-up, create promotions, give personal invitations, reserve facilities, and arrange transportation.
Complete. Next. You’ve put so much effort into preparation …now do it! Carry out the initiative.
Confirm. Finally. Assess how the original problem, need, or want was or was not satisfied. Have participants fill out an evaluation, debrief with those involved, report the strong & weak points of your initiative to your RD.
Here are a few examples of RAs that have utilized their creativity and taken initiative that benefits their residents:
Loren is especially generous. She noticed that she had a lot of stuff that she didn’t use often or at all. She pulled together all of these items – journals, books, jewelry, school supplies, picture frames – then invited her residents to stop by her room and pick an item from her goody box!
Jenny has Hispanic heritage and loves to salsa dance. She didn’t want to keep all the fun to herself, so she sought the necessary permission, reserved the location, and then invited residents to a free dance lesson!
Yewande likes chocolate. She thought it would be good to have a chocolate buffet close to Valentine’s Day. An array of chocolate cake, ice cream, brownies, cookies, and more – complete with a chocolate fountain – satisfied the cravings of the residents!
Movie nights, bulletin boards, and pizza parties are classic programs, still there is so much more that you can do as a RA. May you be encouraged in knowing that your creative best can improve the college experience of your residents!
Submitted by Ashley Nunes, Resident Assistant, Houston Baptist University and Oyinkan Paige Kayode, Resident Assistant, Houston Baptist University