Where do you see nineteen young men and women run out of a room screaming in terror.. because of a spider? At Ubuntu graduation camp. Tucked away in the bush of Stanford, Ubuntu Academy spent five days working and playing hard in the serenity of nature – with all its scary spiders, gecko’s and snakes. Who said graduation was easy?
Graduation camp was the final stretch of the two year program: although the students wanted to relax, there was a packed program of workshops. And man, did they work hard. Soon after arrival students already convincingly performed a piece they had created in a two hour workshop. It is telling for the mentality of the students: “give us a challenge and we’ll rock it”.
The students took on the challenge of taking ownership of this graduation camp, and they succeeded beyond expectation. Every day they facilitated playful morning exercise at the crack of dawn, they prepared breakfasts and cooked dinners, they kept the fire burning for warm showers. During workshops students were bombarded with questions: “How do you take leadership of your own talent? What kind of a leader are you? What are your career options?”
They were asked to voice their worries and their passions; and to talk about the reality of life. There were mind boggling riddles to be solved in teams. In one workshop they had to form a line standing shoulder to shoulder, and were told to take a step forward as one body. A single step, but it had to be perfectly synchronised without talking or bodily signals to coordinate it. Leave it to the Ubuntu family: after just a few tries they silently moved forward as one man, perfectly tuned in to each other’s focus.
No camp without a performance night: on Friday night each student performed a solo piece to show how they had grown in the past two years. Before an audience of fellow students and Ubuntu judges (and several mentors and Danish Kaospilots we had flown in from Cape Town) they rapped, sang, danced and acted. They were beautiful – naturally all students received their graduation certificate. Dressed up in finest gear, the students put together a fancy dinner the next evening to graduate in style after which they danced the night away.
Graduation camp was an experience to remember. Together students and team created an atmosphere of respect, trust and openness. And for all of you who wonder “where was the fun?!” trust us, there was plenty. Because having fun might be the Ubuntu graduates’ biggest talent of all.
* photo’s by Sofie Koevoets