From Debates to Campfires: EPIIC 2016 Outward Bound Weekend by Alexis Tatore

by tuftsigl
Nov 08

While the Tufts dining halls filled with creative, last-minute Halloween costumes, I snuck up to New Hampshire with my EPIIC class to debate collective security and Libya. Missing my first Halloween weekend in college — spooky, right? Well, not exactly. What I anticipated to be a distraction from the weekend turned out to be the highlight. From the crisp air, to the bubbles around the campfire, to the hilarity of watching 14 aspiring diplomats toss stuffed elephants around a circle, every minute of the trip presented an opportunity to laugh and grow with my classmates.

How could I forget our bus breaking down on the way there? We decided to make the most of the two-hour wait, so we piled into the back of the nearest Burger King to debate collective security for two hours. Inez von Weitershausen, our guest speaker from the London School of Economics, constantly challenged us with insightful observations on the changing global balance of power. Most interesting, she encouraged us to question whether a change from the status quo is necessarily undesired — after all, from the China Development Bank to foreign direct investment in Africa and Latin America, isn’t it possible that the rise of China can help combat global poverty?

Likewise, the maze — one of my favorite team building challenges we faced — won’t slip my mind. We were tasked with having to cross a maze without making any noise, and for every mistake we made, we would lose $100 (imaginary currency, of course). Normally, I’ll eagerly jump into a brainteaser (I mean, who actually reads the Ikea instructions?) but this time was different. We dedicated fifteen minutes to assessing the problem, drafting a plan, and — most importantly — making sure every member felt heard. And it worked! Somehow, by a stroke of luck, I managed to complete the maze first. From that point on, the rest of the group easily trickled in and we smiled as we realized the success of our plan.

Before the trip, I had already felt close to some of my EPIIC classmates — but now, I can say that about all of them. I learned about their interests on the bus ride up, about their dream destination around the campfire, and about their approach to problem-solving on Saturday. I feel much more confident and eager about approaching the symposium, inquiry, and classroom in general now. I’m so grateful that I get to spend a full year with these people.