Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Brief History of the Cousino High School Anime Club

In my senior year of high school, I decided that I wanted to start an Anime Club. Thought I only had a few months before I left, I wanted to have the experience, just to see if I could do it. And maybe some enterprising underclassman would pick up the torch next year? That idea appealed to me, and I decided to give it a shot.

I found a sponsor in Mrs. Domka, my English teacher, and bugged my friends about joining, and told them to bring their friends and siblings too, in an effort to drum up the necessary members to qualify as an after-school club. There weren't really any official positions per se, but I appointed myself President, assuming that the position was automatically mine, since I had come up with the idea and singlehandedly founded the club. It seemed reasonable to me at the time.

I had very high hopes for my new club. It was going to be a tight-knit community of people who embraced and celebrated their otaku-ness, with myself set up as the Fearless and Benevolent Leader, the L33t M4st3r, so to speak.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm outstripped my organizational skills.

I never had any plans for a particular session; we were improvising every time. We would just see who had brought which episodes of what series, and vote on which one we wanted to see that day. because there were so many different titles, and such different tastes, we often required multiple rounds of voting to select a clear winner. This voting made a considerable dent in our already-limited time.

Because of this time-constraint, we rarely had time for feature-length movies, and could only watch two, maybe three episodes of a particular TV series in one meeting. This added to the feeling that we weren't really getting anything done: we never watched enough of any one series to develop a real interest in the characters, because we had already moved on to the next title.

After a month or two, members were alienated, and felt that their votes and preferences counted for very little. It just wasn't fun anymore. I allowed the Anime Club to lapse into obscurity, and no one missed it.

This experience taught me a lot about the importance of making plans ahead of time. Even if you change them, or don't follow them at all, it's always good to know where you want to end up. Set yourself some goals, give yourself some reference points. And most importantly of all, make sure that your team-mates/subordinates/members feel ownership of the organization. Make sure that everyone has a voice, and a way to make their preferences known in a meaningful way.

If you don't put in the effort of organizing your meetings, the others will sense this, and see it (correctly) as a lack of enthusiasm. If you're not going to take this seriously, why should they?

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. I'm going to have to seriously think about the last time I feel I really FAILED at something.