Saturday, July 2, 2016

Teams in the Trees

I woke up bright and early today to meet with my peers and some of the RAs in the Buxton lounge. I was given a pair of tick socks, or long socks soaked in pesticides in order to prevent bites, and then was debriefed on what the plan was for today. The group that would be traveling today would walk over to the Ratty for some breakfast, and then at around 8:30 PM we were to depart from Brown University and travel to the coastline in order to participate in a challenge course. We would be back at approximately 4:30 PM.

Everyone was apprehensive about how hot it was going to be. The weather predicted the usual 80-degree weather, but the important variable here was that everyone was wearing pants of some sort. The RAs insisted upon everyone bringing a water bottle and refilling it multiple times throughout the day.

TA Christine is ensuring everyone is present and accounted for.
Luckily, Women and Leadership had somehow wound up with a bus all to ourselves. It was spacious, cool, and relatively quiet as we exited the city and approached the woodlands.

The area in which we were going to spend most of the day was, admittedly, beautiful: the vegetation was a vibrant, welcoming green, and the view by Providence River was wonderful. The copious amount of trees meant plenty of shade to rest
The tranquil sight of Providence River.
under as we heated up.

After a fairly long process of spraying bug spray on our skin and shoes, then applying sunscreen to our exposed skin, we split off into groups and did some energizers. One of them included a team effort to raise a person into the air, with their back parallel to the ground and their eyes angled to the sky.

We broke for a quick lunch that included sandwiches and water. Everyone chatted amongst themselves, attempting to stay cool and relaxed under the shade. We conserved our energy as much as possible, because we knew there were challenges ahead of us.

As we walked to the challenge course, we were paired up with someone we didn't quite know well and told to do a trust walk. I approached a girl named Ishani, who told me she was from New Delhi. As we began the trust walk together, I could tell she was nervous about being "blind." The way the light did or did not hit her eyes made her think something was in front of her, and the unevenness of the trail beneath her feet gave the illusion that she was going to trip at any moment.

I gently reassured her everything was fine and encouraged her to keep moving. I had to act as her eyes in addition to portraying a confident, trustworthy state.

Due to having done this activity before, I was not at all nervous when it was my turn to be blindly guided. I do happen to enjoy closing my eyes and listening to the nature sounds around me when the opportunity presents itself. I simply enjoyed myself had trusted that Ishani had sharp enough eyesight that I would not run right into a tree.

At some point, near the end of the activity, Ishani insisted that I open my eyes. I saw that I was surrounded by an absolute and dazzling green that is a rare occurrence in California. The manner in
which the sunlight filtered through the canopy and illuminated a few select leaves took my breath away.

Our final destination was not far from this spot. There were multiple areas that contained different elements, such as ropes or wooden platforms. The goal for each area was to establish a group objective and complete it. We could adjust this objective as needed.

I found that our ability to collaborate improved throughout each activity. We had a talking period after our allotted time was up in which we were able to provide feedback to everyone. It appeared as though a common trend was that a great deal of us wanted to take charge and express our ideas, rather than listen and then plan something extensively.

By the time the day ended, we all felt much closer and understanding of one another. Although the heat had made us all irritable, a strong bond had formed between everyone that is more valuable than a little sweat.

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