Written by Walter January 30, 2020
My first two weeks in Italy have been a whirlwind. My first few days of classes went by quickly and soon it was time for LIFE. I have gone through various leadership and development programs before, and I expected LIFE to be similar except with more technology and monitoring involved. I have never been more wrong. LIFE was an eye-opening experience and was nothing like I had experienced before. The three day experience changed my life in many ways. I don’t want to spoil the experience for any future participants, but I can surely say that LIFE made me more authentic and vulnerable with those around me, along with a new personal enthusiasm and goals for my future. It also changed our class from complete strangers to teammates and friends I felt as though I had known for years. Going through an experience such as LIFE deeply bonds you with your classmates, and I am glad that this was how we got to begin our experience abroad.
After LIFE, classes resumed for a few days, and we began the Kepner-Tregoe training followed by the Da Vinci challenge. While neither of these were as transformative as life, I appreciated both programs. The Kepner-Tregoe training presented a systematic thinking approach to solve problems or reach a decision. While much of the thinking behind the approach seemed intuitive to me, I did appreciate and learn a great deal from the specific approaches they recommended. The Da Vinci challenge was all about trust and working as a team. Since my group had already gone through LIFE together, we found this day to be easier. We already had trusted and supported each other through LIFE, and this aided us in the difficult tasks of the Da Vinci challenge such as the trust falls. Everyone in our group was able to complete this difficult task, even though it wasn’t easy, because of the bond we formed and the confidence we gained during LIFE.
Immediately following the Da Vinci challenge came our first real free weekend during our time at CIMBA. Almost all the students at CIMBA headed for the same destination – Florence. I traveled with a group of seven other guys, most of who I became friends with through LIFE, to an Airbnb in the northern part of Florence for the weekend. Over the weekend, we explored Florence, climbed the beautiful Duomo, and admired the extraordinary David by Michelangelo. I got to try out a delicious Florentine steak, and the famous salami sandwiches of Florence. It was an amazing weekend, and a great first two weeks at CIMBA. I am so excited to see what the rest of the semester holds!