Before leaving for our weekend retreat at Lorado Taft, a few of the Fellows and me were fairly apprehensive about leaving our projects for a whole weekend. Work needed to be done, sources needed to be read, and I had my drawings to worry about, but after a hefty breakfast at Egg Haven with most of my cohort, we boarded the bus with awaiting our collective experience with the other research groups. Some of the apprehension centered on our
We had some time to ourselves after settling in, and I managed to get myself into a short hike before our first workshop, and I had so much fun with my group of Larissa, Tom, Jake, Sumeet, and Usmon (Spelling is more than likely wrong, but I didn’t want to leave them out) on a photo-shoot adventure. We met for our first workshop, all of which were very helpful in the development of our ideas and research thanks to Kim, Shannon, Steve, and Dave. For our meeting, I didn’t sit next to any people in my cohort, and started becoming more comfortable in this new environment. physical and therefore social distance with the other two groups, SROP and REU – they live together and we’re on our own floor left to our own devices. I know I was worried about being an outsider, but I learned that nothing brings people together faster than sharing a meal or bunking barracks style.
The dinner bell rang and a half hour later everyone was full. The food that weekend was delicious; the staff at Lorado Taft provided us with welcoming accommodations, and made our stay extremely pleasant. I did end up eating dinner with the McKearn Fellows that night, but I made sure to not limit myself to one comfort zone, and most of that shift started with Frisbee.
After dinner I finally put my camera down and found a spot in the circle. We were playing with about twenty people and three discs going at once, so we were forced to call out the names of our intended targets to avoid casualties. I learned some names of those I had missed before and strengthened connections with those I had previously met. These same people, my peers and fellow researchers from different groups gave me support for our next workshop, which I gave back in kind. The meals became more integrated, and I made sure I was with Shannon and Steve to talk about the trees on our excursion to White Pines. We learned the differences between elms and hickories, what plants are tasty to eat, and exactly how prolific and annoying poison ivy can be. Those shared experiences brought our little group a little closer together.
When we got back, Zack, Taylor and I went swimming in the Rock River, and luckily we all came out unscathed. Our last workshop was really great, and allowed all of us to be vulnerable in front of everyone and realize there was no judgment; that we’re all in the same position and can be great assets to each other
It was such an exhaustive yet quick trip. I learned much about my project and where I wanted to direct my research paper, how to identify my own validity and that of my sources, and to convey the bulk of my project in ninety seconds or less! Most importantly however, and what I’ve been eluding to this blog post, is that I learned the people I’m with are more than capable of boosting me to make myself a better researcher and vise-versa. Being a leader in most cases isn’t about the individual, but the people who’ve helped them along the way, and know I learned a lot from the new friends I’ve made in the Taft retreat.