Leadership in Action – Travels Down South

Alzar School

Saturday afternoon, hours before departing for Chile, all of the students and four teachers were huddled around a presentation in the Patagonia Learning Center. The theme of the meeting, ¡We’re Going to Chile! To begin the briefing, we polled the students; How many of you have traveled abroad? How many of you have traveled abroad with your peers? With your teachers? With 29 peers and 10 teachers? As the questions got more and more specific, more and more hands went down.

As an instructor, traveling with students can be one of the most challenging and exhausting components of our semester. Ushering students, navigating language, lost bags, missing passports, too many bathroom breaks, getting enough sleep on the plane to function, drinking just enough coffee but not too much, are all some of the challenges we face. The takeaway, traveling with a group of 40, 30 of which are students can be a challenge. This time around it was a breeze.

Students studying outside in Neltume, Chile.

During our first leadership class down south, students were asked to reflect on the elements of leadership that they had seen themselves, or their peers demonstrating since our travels began. Students easily spent the designated time talking about ways in which they had seen our 10 Elements of Leadership being practiced. The following thoughts are all from their comments: 

Personal Leadership and Follow Through – The majority of students explained that this was one of the first times that they themselves were primarily responsible for their own well-being while traveling. They learned that their passports are sacred, that sleep is important, and eating the correct food while in the airport will set you up for a certain kind of success or failure.

Resilience and Resourcefulness – Cooking meals for themselves, students are quickly learning the ins and outs of their kitchens. During discussion, students explained that they realized that they can’t wake up 10 minutes before they need to be to class if they are supposed to make pancakes. They have also learned that a piece of toast probably won’t keep their stomach full for hours of class time. 

Communication – While learning Spanish is an obvious challenge for all our students, they recognized that they will be faced with many other lessons in communication while here. Living in Domos or Cabañas with a new group of peers inevitably brings new challenges. Students have already recognized many of these challenges and more importantly, have the gained the skills to navigate them.

In Chile, it is apparent that student learning is real and it happens quickly. We look forward to the leadership lessons the coming weeks in Patagonia have to offer.