By Kiana Rouchon, Strong Women, Strong Girls mentor at Miami-Dade College-Wolfson Campus
It has definitely been a quick yet frustrating semester at the Miami-Dade College-Wolfson campus, and the anxiety in the atmosphere thickens as finals week approaches. The same can be said for us as a chapter, scrambling to keep up with our grades, jobs, and responsibilities, all while mentoring and inspiring girls to reach for the stars! Now that we’ve wrapped up our mentoring for the fall semester, our Events and Outreach Coordinator, Makisha Noel, felt that it was important to maintain a strong bond within our chapter and set up a day for us to develop our sisterhood through a ropes course challenge! That’s right – doing crazy activities high in the air while motivating one another! Although we might have been a little sore afterward, it was all worth it. Not only did we have so much fun, but it all came full circle when we realized that what we absorbed from this experience, we’ve been teaching the girls we mentor all along. I can truly say that participating in this ropes course together has not only shown how unique we are as individuals, but also how that same uniqueness unites us!

The mentors started the day by learning new handshakes they could teach to the girls.

On Saturday, December 8th at noon, we approached a huge field at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. All of us have a zeal for adventure, so we went in without any expectations or even knowing what we were getting into! Our main focus from the beginning was re-introducing ourselves to one another by seeing how well we work as a team. Florida Atlantic University’s Campus Recreation officials, Chrissy and Mariah, welcomed us and we began by learning new handshakes with a different partner for each handshake. Some of our favorites included the farmers’ handshake, the Australian handshake and the fish hook handshake. Of course, the first thing we all thought was, “We can use these as icebreakers for our girls next semester!” Soon after, we played The Calculator Game, where we had to use our critical thinking skills to hop on numbers one through thirty in under three minutes, without stepping on a number twice! We devised an easy strategy to get the task done, and after three rounds, every mentor hopped on three numbers each in 47 SECONDS! We were ecstatic to have achieved our goal.  Yet after our victory, we got down to business. It was still fun and games, but now our personalities were about to be tested!
Tension really built when we were faced with a more difficult challenge: balancing a wooden “boat” with EVERYONE on board. If the boat was thrown off balance, we all had to get off and start over. While coming up with a plan to hurry and balance the boat, we all clashed in the sense that our ideas were spiraling and lacked consistency. Eventually, we put all of our differences aside and let one person delegate our movements, which Chrissy said had to be done without talking! This challenge was an increasingly difficult one, but we kept our vision in sight and balanced the boat! Before heading to the next challenge, all of the mentors sat in a circle with Chrissy and Mariah, voicing opinions on our group effort. The boat challenge really taught us that not everyone is the same under pressure, and that even though a task may seem strenuous, that shouldn’t stop us from working together in sync to fulfill our vision.

The mentors are ready to work together and climb to new heights!

Our last challenge was to encourage teamwork among one another as we reach for new heights – literally! As everyone put on their blue harness, I was thinking, “Today is the day some of us conquer more than just a fear of heights!” We were letting our guards down and accepting help from our teammates. After we put on our protective gear, we split into two groups – the Peanut Butters and the Jellies – and took on what seemed to be impossible. We climbed forty foot poles, walked across a cable which was also forty feet high and finally descended to the ground with a new perspective on what it means to be a part of an alliance.
At the end of the day, the ropes course challenge at FAU enabled us to consider one another as we would ourselves, with patience and understanding. As a chapter, we learned to communicate more effectively by listening to one another and showing respect, but also to be a shoulder for each other as sisters. The synergy between all of the mentors throughout this whole experience was encouraging and reminded us of what we’re giving back to our mentees, as well as why. Walking off of the course, we were the representation of true strong women working with each other, for each other. In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”