Our Spring 2016 crop of students is here and already blossoming!
After perhaps the most efficient move-in in SEGL history, our new cohort trekked to the Academic building in Dupont Circle for, among other things, its first leadership challenge of the semester: decide as a group between three separate DC expeditions without any guidance from our faculty. The choice was the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery (just across from the White House), which is currently showing a blockbuster expedition called Wonder. (The exhibit also includes quotations from Aristotle and John Stuart Mill, both of whom our students will meet this coming week.)
We then returned for our first semester dinner and our opening session–a chance to break the ice and review guidelines that will help each student maximize her semester’s potential–and then home to Capital Hill for dorm meeting and (hopefully) a good night’s sleep.
Sunday morning brought sunshine, pancakes and eggs, optional church services, a run on the National Mall, a trip to the drug store for missing essentials, and a return Metro trip to our Dupont Circle Academic Building.
Once in Dupont Circle, students embarked on an afternoon titled “Leadership, Part I” highlighted by some of SEGL’s classic low ropes course-style activities: trust falls (fully supervised, of course!), the Minefield, the Dream Reach, and the treacherous Spiderweb. In addition to accelerating our positive group dynamic, these activities are designed to help each student reflect on her/his leadership and collaboration skills: to provide a base line from which to grow. Our group demonstrated an ability toward provocative and lively discussion early on: our first conversation went a full hour longer than scheduled!
Prior to the session, we discussed the four keys to success in SEGL’s academic program (we will let you speak with a current student to hear more!):
- Being smart doesn’t make you smart. Practice makes you smart.
- The best learning happens in an atmosphere of shared vulnerability. If you are afraid of sounding dumb, you won’t learn.
- Narrow your gap.
- It is no use trying to be clever. We are all clever here. Just try to be kind; a little kind.
After dinner from District Taco (a local DC favorite), we started our first academic session. Like many things in our first few days together, our first academic session is an SEGL tradition. Together we watched live CNN coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks–a difficult thing even for these students, who have only the faintest of memories of the day–and then we reflected on the aftermath and meaning of those events.
Our conversation afterwards was insightful and filled with many connections–personal and intellectual–to the attacks. It was an auspicious beginning for a terrific group of young people who are ready to grow.
Today we chase after Skittles (more on that later this week) and classes begin!