When people ask me how the first week here at CMU went, I have a much different answer than my friends at different universities. Here at Central Michigan University I was granted the opportunity to take part in one of the most accredited Leadership Conferences in the country, all while getting acclimated to the campus I will spend the next 4 years of my life on.
Leadership Safari was one of the most rewarding experiences I have encountered thus far in my lifetime, and I can’t imagine a better way to begin this new chapter in my life. With over 2000 participants, 2000 fellow incoming freshman by my side throughout the week, it was impossible to oversee all of the opportunities brewing around me.
I’ll admit, Safari did not start out as a life changing experience, in fact, I actually dreaded it after the first night. I was placed on team Basilisk, a group of 10, who I spent the entire week with going to speakers, eating meals with, and doing bonding activities. The first meeting was dreadful, everyone was exhausted from moving into the dorms, and nobody participated in the questions, I hardly knew their names. My safari guide was nice, and very willing to help with anything that we needed, but I could tell we frustrated her with our lack of participation. Getting back to my dorm with my roommates and hearing about how much fun they had with their group was disappointing, and that’s when I decided I was only going to get out of this experience what I put into it.
The speakers that came in throughout the week spanned a wide variety, from comedians to illusionists to motivators, there was a little taste of everything. Despite the vast differences in the speakers’ background, content of material, and personality they were all strung together by one common theme; self discovery and finding out what kind of leader we wanted to be on campus and in life. This week showed me that CMU has countless of opportunities at my grasp, but it’s my responsibility to take advantage of them. From this week I decided I was going to be proactive here in Mt. Pleasant and actively seek out things that will grow my own knowledge, character, and well being.
The team building and challenge courses throughout the week forced me to step out of my discomfort in the unfamiliar and take charge in order to be succcesful. Here I built up an ability to speak my mind, and furthered my ability to work well in groups. Throughout my life I have held a variety of leadership positions and have always been put in situations where I’ve had to work within a group, and this week only grew my experience in these roles. I feel as the week went on our Safari group grew as a unit, becoming more comfortable with each other and the campus surrounding us, and I think that alone taught me a lot about life. Being thrown into my group the day I moved in, I told myself that these people were nothing like myself, and that I couldn’t wait for the week to be over. After spending 6 challenging days with these strangers, I realized that no matter how diffeent you may be from a group, it’s possible and necessary to come together to accomplish a common goal. Not only was it possible, but I also created friendships I would have never expected and memories I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
Adjusting to college is hard, there is no doubt about that, but Leadership Safari molded the ideals I will carry with me throughout my college career. I know without Leadership Safari I would have missed out on an opportunity to better myself while adjusting to a completely new lifestyle. My leadership skills are constantly evolving and I know with each experience like this I will only continue to become and better and stronger version of myself.