On Friday, Feb. 22, comedian Arvin Mitchell visited campus to perform a stand-up routine in the North Pod of the Memorial Union hosted by Campus Activities and Student Engagement (CASE). On Saturday, Mitchell and members of CASE set up a communication workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with an emphasis on developing strong leadership and communication skills through the use of comedy.
On Saturday, CASE and Arvin Mitchell conducted a Student Leadership and Communication Workshop as part of Mitchell’s visit to campus. In a small classroom on the second floor of Little Hall, 10 people broke up into small groups and prepared to perform a communication exercise. Each team member was given two slips of paper: one had a trait written on it and the other a profession. The rules were simple; apply the trait to the job and then describe it to the rest of the group. The key aspect of this exercise however, is how funny and creative the combinations are. One student barely kept it together as he tried to articulate the career of a garbage man whose trait was spontaneous combustion.
“He was great! We’re so happy he came because everyone had a blast,” CASE Head Programmer Benjamin Evans said.
On the group’s official description of the event, they explained what events like this workshop contribute to the campus community saying, “our goal is to challenge students to reflect on their own communication style and develop new opportunities for collaboration and cooperation through a new lens which we hope comedy will create.”
Benjamin Evans and Cat Lamb developed a number of fun and meaningful exercises ranging from the one described earlier, to well-known games like two truths and a lie. Most of the activities involved improvisation and role play. The workshop attendees included undergraduate, graduate students and faculty. During the lunch break attendees continued to talk and laugh with each other, proving the effectiveness of the exercises.
One improv activity in particular, was especially effective. The attendees broke off into small groups once again and retired to another classroom for a few minutes. One person told their group a true story about themselves and then the rest of the group developed their own versions of that story. Once the groups were brought back into the main room, each of them told their story. The other groups were then asked to guess whose story they thought it was. This exercise required attendees to listen closely to each other in order to understand the person’s story and ultimately to perform the activity.
“We tried to pick things that were lighthearted and funny, but also emphasized understanding and effective listening,” Cat Lamb, a graduate assistant for CASE, said.
For more information about CASE and other upcoming events, visit their website at umaine.edu/case or visit their office located in room 149 of the Memorial Union. For more information about Arvin Mitchell, check out his facebook page or follow him on Twitter at @arvincomedian.