The first few days of Semester XXXI have been busy and full. We have been introduced to our academic coursework, gotten to know our new friends, and worked to set up the norms and expectations that will help our community flourish. In particular, we had our first “Circle” experience and readily prepared to go into the backcountry.
One of the first things we all did together as a community was to have circle. As each new HMI student filed into the building, we couldn’t help but notice how serious the atmosphere seemed. We were definitely walking into someplace special—a kind of special octagon cave away from our phones, laptops, away from chaos. And while we were miles away from where we used to live, it was evident that Stuen Hall was home—different from our cabins. Here we were with family—all of our fellow HMI-mates. Here we were related not by blood but by the cool carpet, the eight wooden walls, and by the shared choice to try something new with some new people. We had never been to Stuen Hall and had no idea why Danny had a mysterious rock in his hand, but this place was not foreign. The rock would soon be passed around and we would introduce ourselves in the most authentic ways. “I am excited to be here” was repeated so many times and each time we could sense a slightly different kind of excitement from each person. Shy faces started to smile, and each new HMI student seemed to think “Ok, I can do this.” Nothing was more magical.
In addition to beginning to get to know one another, we have been kept very busy in the days leading up to our first expedition. We have discussed both goals for our group—like trying to summit a peak together—and personal goals, such as to stay positive. We have also learned many skills so that we can live comfortably in the backcountry. We have had lessons on how to take care of ourselves, how to set up our tarps, and how to work our camp stoves. We all had a blast measuring out our rations while jamming out to music. We were amazed by how much food we had for fourteen days but know we’ll definitely eat it all! By Thursday evening, we had carefully packed our backpacks, weighed them, then deposited them in the vans—we are ready for our adventure.
We will have so much more to share when we return from our 1st expedition!