What can you learn in 16 weeks?

The first semester of college is almost over. One “A” is secure in the Wilderness First Responder course, and afer a panic-stricken email to Paul a few days ago about the Land Based Activities I class, he told me to “Relax, Breathe. You did just fine. You should have an A in this class.” That leaves one more class, one more unbearable quiz, and one more Reflection Paper that must define the most important thing I have learned this semester.


Each week we were asked to reflect on something. The first reflection I wrote was after we divided ourselves into groups based on our leadership style. My leadership style was Architects and Drivers,  and I quickly realized I would have trouble ever becoming a Relationship Master. In my reflection I wrote that Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.” That earned me a smiley face at the top of the page.

The next week we answered the question, “Why are you taking this class?” and I was forced to admit that I had no idea.

Then came the reflection on a leader we admire and why. I talked about my husband and how he has had to make tough decisions that were not accepted well by employees or shareholders, and how he did what he knew to be right even when it meant he was not so popular. I talked about my Sifu and his pursuit of excellence – not only in the study of Wing Chun, but the extensive study of every other form of fighting, for one purpose: to be the best fighter there is, and thereby create the best fighters in his students. I wrote of President Kennedy and Lance Armstrong and how some leaders also have flaws. In the end, Ben Bernanke was the public leader I admired.

The debate on competition came next, and oh boy did I write a doozy of a reflection that week. Wags seemed to take it well and after class we had a long discussion about what I had learned.

We were shown the key to learning is in reflection….a method whereby you, the student, discover your own learning.

There have been many new things to learn: how to navigate the backcountry with only an analog watch, how to leave no trace of my footprint, and to create nutritional meals from ingredients stored in my backpack. I also learned I can hike for several days with more weight on my back than I thought possible.

I became a Wilderness First Responder and now I carry surgical gloves in my purse and in the new first aid kit that rides along in the back of the Jeep wherever I go.

imageI have played dozens of games with my classmates and with the 8th grade class at the middle school down the road, and I have learned how to sequence those games so a person can learn something about themselves.

Lots of new skills were added to my personal tool box indeed, but I have also learned about me.

For example, I learned it is possible to train for a marathon and have a life. And, that I’m not too old to take a test….and actually pass. I can hang out with 20-year olds and sometimes relate. I have found my voice and that my opinions are relevant, and that I really enjoy the idea of a career outdoors.

Maybe the most important thing I have learned this semester is that you can usually do more than you think you can, and learning makes you feel special…..empowered.