Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Outbound Orientation

It's Starting to Become Real...

So, last weekend was outbound orientation in Douglas, Wy. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was a busy week that was a lot of fun! The first day we arrived, Friday, we met at Eastern Wyoming College at 5:30. (The college used to be an elementary school but was transformed into a college and the heating and cooling systems don't really work. It was mostly heat and hotter heat.) When we first got there all the Rotarians were introduced and then the outbounds stood up and introduced ourselves in English :) (the next day we had to introduce ourselves and our parents and say where we going/from in our language) Then we were split into two groups, the Alpha's and the Beta's. This is for a culture assimilation game called Bafa Bafa. Katy and I were Beta's, and we lived in a culture where we had a different language. They gave us 10 different cards, and the cards were either yellow, green, red, blue, white, and pink. Each card had a number on it with 1-7. The goal was to get 7 cards with all the numbers in all the same color. BUT we couldn't speak English. We had to trade cards with other people, but instead of saying "I want a white 3" I had to say "Wa, ma ma ma." The colors were Wa for White, Ga for Green, Ba for Blue, Ya for Yellow, etc. To say what number you wanted, you had to take the first initial of your first name and last name and add a vowel after it. So for me, Ma Ma. But that only means two. For people like Katy Wells, to say #7, she went KaWa KaWa KaWa Ka. It was fairly complicated at first. There were also gestures we had to memorize. We weren't allowed to speak English AT ALL. So then we pretended that we were on exchange in the other culture. Katy, me, and two others went to the Alpha room without knowing anything about them. 4 Alpha's came to our room without knowing anything about us. We got 4 cards with different designs on them and a slip of paper and poker chips. We went to the Alpha room and learned that they were really touchy and spoke English :). They would hug you and grab your arm and pet you and all kinds of things. But we also learned that it was a male-dominated culture, and one of the most important questions to ask someone upon greeting them was "How is your uncle/dad/brother/son/grandpa?" It was unacceptable to ask how girls in the family were doing. You also were shunned from a conversation if you said hello first. Instead, you had to wait to be acknowledged before speaking, because that is polite. They also played a card game and gave away chips but the card game didn't seem to have any definite rules. After you talked to someone, they would initial your slip of paper if they liked you and write numbers down if they didn't. It was complicated but a good way to see how little things that aren't offensive in America can be offensive in other cultures and how different people react to different things you do.
              Next we asked questions that we wanted answered by the end of the weekend, and then we went to our hotel. Katy and I stayed at the same place so we went hot tubbing and Morgan and Abby drove over and Ridley Schiffer (going to France) came and chilled with us. Morgan and Abby went back to their hotels and Katy and I sat in the lobby and talked to Connor (going to Belgium with me!), Maike (pronounced Micah, going to Thailand), and Carly (going to Argentina). It was a fun day :) The outbounds are OUT OF CONTROL.
             On Saturday, we had to be at the college at 8. We went through technical information and talked about the book we had to read The New Global Student by Maya Frost and about the movie we had to watch, "Dances with Wolves." Then we reviewed the for D's-No drinking, driving, dating, or drugs. (The exchange students modified this into Do It, Don't Get Caught, Deny It, Do It Again). After that a lady from Canada came and talked to us about the 6 Be's (Be first, Be of Service, etc.) After that we got to go around and learn about communication while abroad, pins and banners and gifts, travel and visits, financial stuff, insurance, and some other things. Then we had lunch and the alpha group got to get their food first but they couldn’t eat and then the alpha group got kicked out and beta had to sit somewhere where an alpha persons food was to teach us that we don’t always eat what we expect and to teach alpha’s I guess that sometimes people steal your food. J then in the afternoon we had a lady from our travel agency came and talked about everything we needed to do. We also had homework where we have to write a letter to our parents that rotary sends out at Christmas telling them where we hoped we would be in our exchange and our parents have to send us one telling us where they hope we’ll be. Then we were done for the day!!
          Katy, Morgan and I went to dinner and then Katy and I went swimming with the inbounds and outbounds. I’m pretty much in love with Beko from Turkey and Abel from Ecuador living in Worland. We also heard a story about how you’re so much less likely to go to war with a country that has opened its arms to you and treated you like its own citizen so if every 17 year old went on exchange, there would be no more wars. Essentially. So we invited all the inbounds to our hotel but they couldn’t go so we stayed and chatted with the Worland boys and then Katy and I left and tried to find KFC but got super lost in Douglas (How?? Good Question) and ended up driving around aimlessly for about an hour. Then we found it and went hot tubbing with Connor who’s going to Belgium too but he’s gonna be in liege.
          On the last day, we broke into guys, girls, and parents groups. The girls were talked to about things pertaining to girls and I'm not sure what the parents and boys did!! Then we had our country meeting and I met up with Noemie and Pierrick and Connor and Bobbe to talk about all things Belgium. I basically learned that they are very laid back, hard to offend, and like to drink. After that we had our Blazer Ceremony where everyone got their blazer, nametag and pins. And then we took approximately 10 billion photos and went home. It was a good weekend and I'm more ready to go on my exchange now than I was before.

My family at the blazer ceremony

Noemie and I
All the outbounds with blazers on

Katy and I and the inbounds :)

Candid with the Cheyenne outbounds.
Katy has lots of sass.

I drew a map of our locations next year. It's to scale :)