OUWB Orientation: Day 3 – PRISM Teamwork

Images from today:

How creative/symbolic/innovative [thanks for the words Caribou buddies!] were these “prism” table settings during our PRISM luncheon?

Mmm Caribou Coffee…

Last year as a member of the Executive Board for the Society of Women Engineers Section at the University of Michigan and while running the Ypsilanti Middle School Engineering Club, I got to know a lot about icebreakers. Some of them are really effective, while others are just plain annoying. While I cannot say that I absolutely love being a participant, by the end of the year I realized how much potential they have to teach communication and set the stage for a welcoming community.
I’m going to go a bit out of order to discuss today’s orientation events, so bear with me here. 
In the afternoon, all 50 of us participated in a challenge course. After a large-scale “icebreaker” [which involved making squares…] we divided up into our PRISM groups [there were 10 per group] and went through various obstacles. After a generic name game [though, I’m happy to say that I was able to name everyone in my PRISM group prior to the game], we worked on a challenge involving teamwork, following directions, understanding directions and communication [believe it or not… this was all done solely with the use of a Beanie Baby turtle named Timmy]. Because success came relatively quickly, we relished in its glory while moving on to the second challenge. 
Our next challenge entailed a pretty wild story about being shrunk down to ant size and navigating a way to the “sticky” nachos using a rope. I’m not really doing this challenge much justice, but we completed it on our first try, which led to a mutual feeling of accomplishment. Bring it on Challenge Course people! Group C can handle anything!

Then came the Helium Hula Hoop… since I had done this particular icebreaker before, I thought that it would be relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, I was very wrong. Somehow, this challenge proved to be the most difficult and frustrating one of the day. While in retrospect, I see that there were ways that we could have alleviated the tension running through our group with our numerous failed attempts and constant bickering, I have to admit that I was also caught up within it all. I believe that a large number of medical students have made it as far as they have because of their perfectionist tendencies and ability to lead. But the problems always arise when you tell a bunch of leaders and perfectionists to work together — who gets to lead the perfectionist leaders? [have you ever seen the words “perfectionist” and “leader” said so many times in 2 sentences?!]
Alas, we finally completed [well… mostly] the challenge and made it all better with a huge group hug and a cheer for our team. 
Next we lined up and formed a giant snake with every other person “blind.” The snake had to scale a number of obstacles [under a rope, over a park bench, through a hula hoop] with half of its members unable to see. It was definitely a fun challenge.
Finally, my favorite challenge of all was the spiderweb. I personally have never done this before, but here’s an example of what we were working with:
Don’t let the image above fool you — ours was a lot smaller than the example I found on the web. Anyway, the challenge was that we had to get everyone from one side of the web to the other without touching it and basically using every single space available [where you could only go through certain spaces once]. Also, we had combined groups, so we had 20 people to move from one side to the other. 
The reason that this challenge will remain ingrained in my memory is the fact that it took a lot of trust to let yourself be passed through a tiny hole by your peers. It was a very intimate moment to be held so carefully by a number of my classmates and looked after to ensure that I would 1. get through the hole, 2. not be violated, 3. not get my hair pulled out, and most importantly, 4. not get hurt. Thank you team, for taking care of me — I’ll make sure to return the favor as best as I can.
As you might have guessed, our team was successful in the challenge [even when we had to have a bunch of members blindfolded!].
The challenges lasted 3 hours [and I am now sunburnt…should have packed sunscreen!], but it really felt like time flew by [guess they didn’t lie when they said time flies when you’re having fun!].
Wow, I’m a bag of cheesy lines today.
To back up to the beginning of the day, we started with a session on Diversity and Multicultural Initiatives. Through a Powerpoint, watching a video, and a quick discussion, we received a great introduction to why diversity is so important in medicine. Afterwards we heard about the insurance plan available to students and the services available at the Graham Counseling Center.
Our [delicious] lunch was included as part of PRISM. Furthermore, each group had a mentor that joined us for the meal [ours was an Emergency Medicine physician]. Afterwards, we started the Challenge Course.
All in all, it was a really heartwarming day. I enjoyed it [even though I was exhausted] and hope that our TBL sessions will be this much fun in the future [maybe we can come up with a good icebreaker with our textbooks…]!

3 thoughts on “OUWB Orientation: Day 3 – PRISM Teamwork

  • August 11, 2011 at 2:53 am

    You think the Helium Hula Hoop can be frustrating? Try HKN’s Magic Dowel Rod, with nine/ten officers surrounding the ~1m long stick. In my three semesters as an officer, I never saw it go lower than about 8 inches below the start. Guaranteed to get at least two participants irritated with one or more of the other participants or your money back!

  • August 12, 2011 at 2:27 am

    I love your life right now. Seriously, so happy for you Amanda.

    I hope my interview goes well at OUWB. I really want to join you next year.
    Fingers crossed!!!

  • August 26, 2011 at 2:11 am

    @DandyBlu: Thanks! Just stay relaxed and show your enthusiasm for the school and you’ll do great! =)

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