As Charlotte mentioned in the previous post, orientation has officially kicked off a couple weeks ago and then the bloggers disappeared off the face of the earth. To be more specific, we clearly are enjoying our time too much socializing and studying (cough) to update our readers. It sounds a bit blunt, but it's the honest truth. On top of taking on a 2-unit course on the foundations of leadership--complete with a final exam--our schedules pretty much run from Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM. And sometimes, we have to stay on campus until 7 PM (the horror!). The Anderson admin really has tried to break up the week as much as possible, so we'll have one day of being absorbed in academia and another immersed in various physical activities. One such physical activity that we were subject to is the Odyssey ropes course.
The day started out benignly enough, with all of us meeting in the convocation hall to get properly oriented by Lain, the founder of Odyssey. We did some minor exercises to wake ourselves up and were told by Lain to "empty our glasses" so that we're not so full of ourselves that we cannot let anything or anyone else in. Ho hum. We all heard this spiel before. Most students were still half-asleep and probably just wanted to get the day over and done with. Little did we know that our eyes were going to be opened and our glasses were going to be emptied (initially out of fear and trepidation but later out of teamwork and compassion).
After we neatly filed out of the convocation hall, we marched up to Sunset rec center to finally begin the day's activities. We quickly realized that there was an unmistakable sense of "teambuilding" baked into all the challenges. One of the tamer activities included what's shown in the first picture of this entry: Several teammates in a circle holding elastic ropes were blindfolded and their "handlers" acted as guides to help them move the elastic ropes, which were all tied at the end to a circular elastic band. The point was to first get the circular band around the water pail then lift that pail in unison and dump the water into another pail that was nearby. I know my description is spotty at best, but the first picture will give you a good idea of the logistics.
So. That was nice. Somewhat interesting but ultimately not mind-blowing. Our team was left wondering what the rest of the day will bring and before we knew it, we were smacked in the face with not just one, but two formidable pièce de résistance.
Behold the acrophobic's mortal enemy number 1:
And the acrophobic's mortal enemy number 2:
Needless to say, unless you're a thrill-junkie, most people will be deathly scared of the two activities. We were wearing harnesses with four belays each, but fear trumps rationality when you're 30 feet off the ground.
The first activity instills you to put your trust in your partner. Essentially you're pushing into him or her and your partner is reciprocating the movement. The point is to find the equilibrium, balance, and strength to cross the two tight ropes and crab-walk across, as the ropes get further and further apart. My partner was the lovely Martina and I was floored by how brave and calm she was!
While the first activity (loosely defined) was about putting your faith in your partner, the second activity (again, very loosely defined) was all about putting your faith in yourself. The point is to overcome your fear and to put your faith in your body, your belays, and your will to succeed. I eventually mustered up the courage to stand on that deceptively tiny disc on top of the formidable pole (the toughest part of the entire activity).
I'm still a bit confused as to why I'm smiling here. I blame it on delirium.
And then after the pole-standing, we were to jump and grab onto a trapeze about 1-2 yards away. I suppose you can call that the icing on the cake...if you're a thrill-seeker, that is.
At the end of the day, we were scraped and dirty and exhausted, but I truly believe that we all appreciated one another much more. As corny as it may sound, we were able to build a sense of teamwork when we found ourselves facing the same mental and physical challenges. This will be an experience that I won't forget for a long, long time.