2000 new students
100 volunteer hours
After being a participant my freshman year as a Killer Whale, I knew I had to go through this experience again as a guide. I stepped outside of my comfort zone, I met hundreds of new people, and I became acclimated with the campus. The speakers were motivating, the guides were exciting, and the music pumped us up for our freshman year in college.
Once all the applications, interviews, and trainings were complete; I knew my time to become a leader was here. After being willed the Whooping Crane from a former Tri Sigma and one of the original Safari animals, I knew I had to represent this legacy. I made a goal to keep my energy up the entire week and to make a positive impact on others. I believe I did just that.
It was finally time to meet my participants after welcoming all of the students with cheers and answers. They all were so nervous and quiet that I was only really able to learn their names the first day. If anything, I was twice as nervous as they were but tried my hardest to not have it show. The next day, I arrived at the wiffleball excursion to coach a new group of freshman to victory. After losing every game we played, I learned how to keep the energy and positivity of my group up. I just played games with them to make sure they felt welcomed at CMU and enjoyed the excursion as much as possible. And of course, I made a couple friends along the way.
Yelling “GO FIRE UP CHIPS” and giving high fives as the freshman entered the first speaker of Safari, David Coleman, made me already feel like I was accomplishing my goals as their faces gleamed with excitement. With every person I gave hugs to at the “airport” and the family members I gained from this speaker, really kicked off Safari the right way. After President Ross stopped in to help the freshman feel welcomed to this university, I believe it helped create an atmosphere that no other university could have.
The third day started with the challenge course of trust falls, problem solving, and obstacles. My participants weren’t so enthusiastic and didn’t see the point, so it made myself realize the obstacles I had to face for the day. One obstacle was their energy and positivity. I had to constantly tell them that they can get through the exercise and should keep a positive mind. Another obstacle was with one of my participants having a mild case of arthritis. It was painful for her to stand and walk far distances. One exercise was to have the participants travel across the “lake” to the other side on boards. I knew she wouldn’t be able to participate in this one but I wasn’t going to let her miss out on this opportunity. After seeing her dissapointed face as everyone started to travel across, I came up with the idea to give her a special power. I told her she has the power to walk across water and help others as she seemed fit. I notice her face light up as she helped move the boards from one person to the other knowing she was able to finally participate. My last obstacle was trying to get another participant participate in the trust fall exercise. She seemed so nervous she almost didn’t even do it. I kept reminding her how we would be there for her and motivate her to step outside of her comfort zone. She finally leaned back into the arms of her new friends and I knew I made an impact on her. After the obstacles, Michael Miller motivated the participants to let others know how much they matter and to do things you would normally second guess. He told them to give their charm blowpop to someone they deeply care for to let them know how much you love them. Following up, The Asia Project and Josh Healey are slam poets who have the students think deeper and clearer about choices they might encounter in life.
Ed Gerety motivated everyone to dream big and do big things with their life. He told everyone that making a dream board with your goal in life makes you 18 times more likely to achieve it. I then observed my participants reactions to the “Fairness Lunch” where a select few received big lunches and a select few received VERY small lunches. One of my participants demanded and complained to get more food while another automatically shared his. Once they realized this was set up to have them realized how blessed they are, they all shared and felt apologetic for their actions. Showing just how blessed they are, we colored bags to be filled with food for the starving children. This allowed them to see a deeper side to how lucky they are to have food in their stomach, clothes on their back, money in the bank, a loving family, and the ability to attend school. For dinner, they were able to listen and ask questions to a Residential Life professional. She informed them the experiences and problems they might encounter with roommates and how to study and stay on top of their classes. After all the seriousness of the day, they ended with two comedians, Eric O’Shea (known to be the voice of “Elmo”) and Alexandra McHale.
The final day finally arrived and I was able to help with Nancy Denney who talked about how to be successful in college. She was informative and relatable to connect the difference between what they did in high school to pass and how to succeed in college. After seeing President Ross connect even further with the students by doing the ALS ice bucket challenge on the football field, the students knew this was going to be a good school to attend! Being able to listen to Andrew Jenks froim MTV “The World Of Jenks” created a new light of volunteering and helping others. They ended the night with warm and fuzzies and a celebration with the other 2500 students.
Overall, I met hundreds of thousands of people, danced like a fool, helped my freshman participants and others become acclimated with campus and will be returning next year to do it all over again! There is nothing like Leadership Safari anywhere else and I feel extremely lucky and blessed to of been able to not only attend once, but facilitate a second time! I have grown as a leader with the ability and skills of keeping a group of participants responsible, to have fun and learn, and get them motivated. I had a really challenging group who were extremely quiet but when I was finally able to get them to talk, I knew I could make an impact on any type of student. Fire Up Chips!