The students of Spring 2014 arrived on Saturday and they are already distinguishing themselves.
After a quick trip to the National Zoo (and a successful viewing of the new baby panda, Bao Bao!) the students returned to the Academic Building for some icebreakers, a dinner of empanadas, and our opening caucus. We then traveled home for our first dorm meetings of the semester and the first night with new roommates, just a block from the U.S. Capitol.
This (Sunday) morning several students helped make a tasty brunch while others went on a brisk run around the National Mall (the weather was a bit warmer today!). We then trekked to our Academic Building for a series of leadership activities that helped to set the interpersonal tone for the semester: trust falls (fully supervised!), a Science Room minefield, and the infamous Spiderweb.
Before these activities, the students had the chance to share their views on the characteristics of the ideal leader and the ideal follower–characteristics they will try to emulate in the days and weeks ahead. (You might wonder why we discuss how to follow at SEGL. Here is a fun video that gives one answer.)
Each student then met with her or his advisor for an opening 15 minute session. Advisor meetings take place once a week for an entire class period; they are an opportunity to check in about academic and social life, to share hopes and frustrations, and to develop strategies to get the most from the semester. After a trip to the drugstore to purchase any missing items, followed by a dinner of fajitas, we settled in for the first academic session of the semester.
That session included sobering live CNN coverage of the attacks of September 11, 2001. We started watching ten minutes before the first plane hit, and ended just after President Bush’s first remarks to the nation. We asked the students to watch not only from a personal perspective but also through the lens of historians. And then, after reflecting in their new Academic Reflection Journals, we circled the chairs and had a thoughtful–and, at times, moving–discussion. This generation will inherit the legacy of September 11, and listening to our student’s astute contributions infused the room with a sense of auspicious beginning.
What a wonderful way to start SEGL’s tenth semester.
Today, classes begin!