As I arrived on campus for move in day, I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was excited for the new chapter of my life to begin. I was blessed to have known 48 other excellent leaders before I even stepped foot on campus. As we all intermingled and helped each other move in, we all had one lurking thought in the back of our heads… Leadership Safari. Leadership Safari is a one of a kind leadership program put on as an orientation program to welcome Central Michigan students to their freshman year. The 5 day program is meant to introduce students to one another and to help start the building of long lasting relationships. As morning one of Leadership Safari dawned, all had positive attitudes. Everyone smiled, everyone loved, everyone was happy. Day one had many ups and little downs;we started to meet our groups and listened to inspirational speakers. We all were super excited for what the week would hold. Day two everyone woke up slightly less excited than day one. We participated in fun group activities. I chose beach volleyball because beach volleyball is awesome! We continued through the rest of the day with smiles and positivity! Day three was the greatest! Day three was the team bonding day and we all participated in trust activities. Day three really let me interact with the group and allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. Day four hit like a train. Day four contained sleep deprivation, flaring emotion, and anguish. Day four made everyone sad and everyone really struggled with functioning on little sleep. We knew that the experience outweighed the negatives so we tried to keep pushing through. The last day was among us, we had our wonderful keynote speaker close the conference. The week of learning and meeting new people had come to an end.
During Leadership Safari I really learned about myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone and was able to connect with some really wonderful people. I expected that I wouldn’t have really been impacted by Leadership Safari, but wow, I was sure wrong. Some of my best friends at CMU so far were met within my safari group. Shoutout TREE MONKEYS!!!! During this experience I learned to be more open minded to the people’s ideas around me. I was fortunate enough to meet many different people from many different social classes, ethnicities, and cultures. Leadership Safari taught me the importance of being culturally adroit and not judging the book by its cover.
Now what?: As a current freshman, I would recommend Leadership Safari to any incoming freshman. I know the process and week may be long and grueling, but it was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life.The relationships built at safari will be life long relationships. I will walk the campus everyday knowing I have many friends walking in my shoes, I know that because I attended Leadership Safari, I will continue to be a leader and put the practices I’ve learned at Safari into my daily life.