Semester 37’s schedules were packed this week as academic classes began. Last Thursday and Friday we had introductions to each class before beginning our regular class schedules on Monday. In history class, we discussed American identity and what it means to be an American, while in Spanish class we read about Latino immigration in America. In Science we studied coniferous forests, the lotic habitats near the Arkansas River, and aspen forests, which we learned are one large connected organism. English class has been a BLAST! We started reading A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, which is a wonderful semi-autobiographical book about Norman’s difficult relationship with his troublesome brother, Paul. In Practices and Principles (P&P), we discussed various readings about our relationship with the natural world. Overall, the past academic week has been exciting with interesting challenges presenting themselves as we start this new school semester.
Our weekend started off with a couple of Saturday classes that ranged from reflecting on the outdoors with Margi to cook crew preparing a pleasant warm lunch for the rest of the Semester 37. After our afternoon class, groups were sent out to learn the ways of chopping wood with Noah. If we weren’t chopping wood, we had free time to spend however we wished. Some of us were watching the football game in Who’s Hall, catching up on work, or tossing the Frisbees through the trees in a makeshift game of disc golf. After dinner, we all gathered into groups based on our favorite cereal brands and competed in dance competitions, weird contortions, noises and a whole bunch of other team spirit activities. Sunday morning started off with the much-anticipated opportunity to sleep in followed by a well-deserved 10:00am brunch. Afterward, half of the students on campus headed out, ready to do some intense rock climbing. The other half stayed behind, playing capture the flag and doing some reflection on their past few weeks here at HMI. Sundays offer students most of the day to themselves, which is a nice change of pace from the tight schedule that we follow on other days.
Returning back from first expedition, everyone was excited to sleep in real beds and reconnect with their cabin mates. It was unnerving at first to be around so many people after living with such a small group during expedition, but we eased in quickly as we began chores and classes. At nights in our cabins we play games and talk before bed. Some cabins play cards and some learn more about each other through activities like “Spotlight” where we answer lots of fun questions about ourselves.
As we settle back into routine and everyday life at HMI, we are getting used to all elements of our schedule. Each morning we do AMX (morning exercise) and so far we have been building up to running at high altitudes and doing goofy CrossFit-like Tae-Bo. After AMX, we always eat a huge, delicious breakfast cooked by our peers. After breakfast, we do our chores, which range from organizing the lost-and-found to cleaning the bathrooms (by far the best job!). Chores are an awesome way to take responsibility for the space we live in. We clean areas around HMI with the same group each day and then go to classes, getting to experience and appreciate a pristine campus by our own hands. Throughout the day, we often do electives and activities, which are periods of time when we can have fun and learn new skills like photography, slacklining, rock climbing, or yoga. At lunch, we gather for community announcements and another tasty meal from cook crew. On cook crew, we are learning the basics of cooking meals for over 70 people and how to keep the kitchen clean. When classes end, we all eat dinner together and then have some free time to play games and hang out before study hall. Each day has been very busy, but we have really been making the most of the wonderful place we are in and every moment that we have together as a community.