This past week I was very fortunate to be able to be a part of CMU’s Leadership Safari. This program is put on during the week before the fall semester starts for new students coming to CMU’s campus. Though the majority of these students are freshmen – I had the great pleasure in working with a group of transfer students. Throughout the week, students sit through an array of speakers, activities, and other undergo other experiences to better themselves as a leader and overall person. Along with this, they alsoare able to move to campus a week earlier than everyone else and get a more familiar grasp on Central as a whole.
My week was an amazing one. I had ten transfer students out of about 100. I made connections with everyone and saw them grow together as a group from the awkward first meeting to the emotional last meeting. Throughout the week, my students shared things they said they normally do not share with others. For example, one of my students said that her parents are recently divorced when her mom came out as a lesbian. She said that her mom now has a significant other and she was talking about how she has been affected because of it.
Another student of mine said that he is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and that he was not sure if Leadership Safari was the right program for him to partake in.
After saying this, he continued to explain that other people have told him he is “better off in his grave” because of his diagnosis. Hearing this, my heart broke. My other participants’ mouths dropped to the floor and could not believe the cruelty people could have in order to say these things. My participants told this student how brave he was to continue on and not let people bring him down. His face lit up and made my heart grow strong.
At the end of the week, I did an activity with my participants; The Touch Someone Activity. In this activity, I had my students sit down and close their eyes. When I tapped someone on the shoulder, they were to stand up and follow my instructions I say out loud; “touch someone that has inspired you”, “touch someone that you can see being friends with for a long time”, “touch someone that has changed your viewpoints on things”, etc. It was so amazing to be on the outside and look at everyone touch someone who has made their week an amazing one. Once someone was touched, they still had his/her eyes closed, but the way his/her face lit up was such a great thing to see.
I also did warm fuzzies with these students and after they handed them back to me, I was able to see what everyone wrote about everyone else and it was so fulfilling. Taking these students who did not know anything about CMU or the other people in this group to being excited about the upcoming semester and depending on the people in the group.
This experience has shown me just how important creating a community among people is crucial. You need to set standards, create connections, and create that respect. I am positive this group of individuals will be able to rely on one another even though Safari has ended – which makes me a very proud Safari Guide.