The IB Retreat was a very valuable experience over the course of the two days spent at both the Gold Coast hotel and at Crossroads. There were many challenges throughout the various activities that really stood out to me, and helped me come to an overall conclusion about my view of the world.
The Crossroads simulation was very powerful: we were grouped into “families” and tasked with making paper bags with newspapers and a flour/glue solution in order to pay for food, rent, medicine and other services so members of our family could stay alive. After the three ten minute “weeks”, we all had a chance to come together and reflect about what we had just undergone as a year group. One observation that stood out to me was how we all went to great lengths to make sure we got whatever money we could, whether it was kneeling on the floor begging the shopkeepers to accept our products, or resulting to giving out free hugs in exchange for money. Despite all of this, at the end of the day, it was still just a game to us. We could do all of these things comforted in the knowledge that they wouldn’t have any real long term ramifications on our health, our minds, our lives. In reality, this is not the case. What we experienced was very real for millions of people in the world, and my first instinct was to be pessimistic, and believe that nothing we did could change this cycle. However, after reflecting and discussing as a cohort, the idea that “I’m not big enough to make a difference, I’m just me” was quickly changed. This made me realise that we are all parts of a greater whole, and the sum of all of our potential contributions can truly surpass all expectations. The global issues facing our generation as we come into the world are not one person’s fault, nor will one person have a singular solution. This is where the idea of Gestalt first came into play during the retreat – when solving the world’s problems, the steps start with the small parts.
When we were watching 12 Angry Men, it was difficult at first picking out the different kinds of bias in the various perspectives being presented, as it wasn’t something I had been previously exposed to. However, during the course of the film, it was very enjoyable to watch how each man’s opinion was changed as more and more questions and arguments were raised. Often, the reason for the change in his vote would correspond to a personal circumstance, for example the juror that changed his vote based on the fact that both he and one of the eyewitnesses were wearing glasses and might have given incorrect testimony. The list of detected biases that we came up with at the end of the film were interesting to explore and debate the impact of.
Speaking to the CDNIS alums during the second day of the retreat was another very valuable and enlightening event. They provided lots of insight into the steps they took to get through the Diploma Programme and into the universities they attend now. I realised that while some elements of life at CDNIS had changed since they experienced it, their overall concerns when they were our age were very similar. We have the opportunity to ask them questions that we had, or voice other fears about our futures. This was very valuable for me as I found that some of my own hesitations and uncertainties about my own path to my future were shared by my peers.
Through Mr Smeed’s drama games, the concept of “failing is okay”, especially with reference to the IB, was also enforced. I think many of my peers and I are often very concerned with getting things exactly right, and will go to many lengths to achieve this. The bigger they are, the harder they fall – and there is no doubt that many of us will fail over the next two years at some point or another. This was a good reminder to me that things may not always play out the way I wanted to do, or I may not get as good a grade on a summative as I had hoped. With failure comes growth, a necessary part of the ongoing journey we are about to undertake.