Like all other incoming college freshmen, I counted down the days until I finally moved away from my home of 18 years. Through all the excitement it was easy to forget how colossal this change in my life was about to be. The reality of this change did not hit me until my family drove away in the empty car and waved goodbye. I was all alone in this new city, with very few people and things I knew. That is when the night before Christmas feeling went away. But thankfully I was quickly emerged into an amazing program called Leadership Safari. This experience quickly helped my adjust to life at CMU, prepare me with crucial information to help me be successful in and out of the classroom, climate me to my new community, and provide new leadership training.
I was a member of team beaver during the week of Safari. My group consisted of a safari guide (an upperclassman student), myself, and 8 other freshmen. When I first met my group I was a bit apprehensive. The other members were very quiet compared to my loud self, and just did not appear to be the typical people I would approach. This leads me to the most beneficial lesson I took from Leadership Safari. In high school, I was surrounded by people who I went to school with since kindergarten. This led to having a preconceived notion of everyone who walked the halls, including a preconceived idea of myself. I was in a routine of who I associated with and what types of people I felt comfortable approaching. But now in new chapter of my life, Safari was the beginning of my clean state. It no longer mattered who people thought I was, or what I thought I knew about other people. I am now on a campus of almost 27,000 students. I can be anyone I want without judgement. My Safari group opened my eyes to so much diversity and taught me lessons about inclusion, and overcoming prejudice.
Here at CMU there are hundreds of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) and volunteer opportunities. There are so many ways to get involved and find new interests in college. Safari gave me the confidence and assurance that I am free to BE. I can create a new self without fear of judgment. I can meet new people who have lived and and grown differently than myself. These people can impact me to BE a better person and grow to be more accepting and knowledge on diversity. The knowledge I gained at Safari will push me to try new things and be a new person who I create.
Click here to view a video featuring some of the activities and the atmosphere of this program.