I can’t say that prior to my first semester at CMU I wasn’t nervous. I was dreading that the first week would be a terrible time of homesickness and trying to figure out how to live with three people I’d never met before and convincing them I really wasn’t socially awkward. However, Central Michigan University has out done itself when trying to make freshman feel welcome and at home during their first week on campus.
Leadership Safari was designed to immerse the freshman class into college life in a fun and stressless way. Students are placed into small groups (cleverly named after animals) and given a Safari guide to lead them during the week. CMU hires motivational speakers and slam poets along with other entertainers in hopes of making the class of 2020 into stronger leaders who will make the world a bit better, because as Dan Gaken would say
“You are not the leaders of tomorrow. You are the leaders of today.”
My Safari group (The Baboons) started off as a bunch of kids who didn’t know how to talk to each other and grew into a group of friends who could be trusted with almost anything. All this came to be in just 5 days. Safari pushed us to work together in uncomfortable situations, but that only helped us build a stronger bond. For one of our lunches we experienced what it is like to not have enough to eat. Some of us were given full lunches, the others were given only one thing. Together we divided our food and shared what we had. It was then that we realized how close we had gotten and how much we cared for the group. When you stand on a 4 foot tall box and are expected to fall backwards into the arms of strangers, you need to learn to trust them very quickly.
The “Babs” and our “Mama Bab” Emily
It’s difficult to fully understand something by just reading a short description. That’s exactly what I learned looking back on my week during Safari. The online description I read when signing up, didn’t quite prepare me for what I was about to experience. I never would have thought going into a week full of activities, meeting new people and getting lost somewhere near the Towers at 11pm could ever be so exhausting and life changing. And somehow I managed to survive Safari while fighting mono. That was the first week I ever had bags under my eyes, but it was so worth the sleep deprivation.