The moon was at its peak, and there wasn’t leakage of the sun’s radiance in the night sky. The ambience was consistent of solid darkness. No gradience of the sun’s fluorescence indicated that daytime would shine from the horizon any time soon, it was a pure morningI arose from my slumber two hours prior to what I had set my alarm to. For the little sleep I had gotten, I seemed to feel very well rested. I had prepared the night before to make travels to a place where their values and way of life were different from mine, The Mountain School in rural Vermont, along with 19 other selected students from my school. I anxiously waited until 4 a.
m. for when I would walk out of my apartment with my duffle bag and suitcase. I ran through my checklist numerous times to ensure I had sufficed the recommended items. ‘Boots’. Check. ‘Raincoat’. Check. ‘Toiletries’.
Check. ‘Sheets and pillows’. Check and check. Nothing was to slip past my observation.My freshmen year had just ended and summer vacation had already swept most of the students in my school. What lied ahead for them was a summer of relaxation, but for me, I had plans to discover a new world from my own eyes, I had plans of building individual growth. Three weeks was the time frame of my stay at The Mountain School, and my time spent there tested my durability, the ability to adapt, and my decision-making skills. In the city of New York, I’m surrounded by miles of city blocks, bricks and glass.
In Vermont, trees replaced the city buildings, and high hills and mountains became the skyscrapers.Five hours crammed inside a bus, we finally arrive on the soil of the campus. The travel to Vermont was worth it for the hospitality we were greeted with. Since the school was farm based, I already I knew I would be faced with tasks of labor that were odd jobs from where I came from. The first half of the week was nothing too heavy that I couldn’t handle. We had daily tours, were assigned to teams that had different shifts for maintaining the farm, and we were allotted rest of the day to ourselves. After that period, we were introduced to our academics.
Our biggest assignment was to have a speech prepared for the last day of the three-week program, and knowing myself, this was personally a substantial adversity because I lacked experience in public speaking. My school at home is largely a test-oriented environment, and we didn’t approach many projects that would require a class presentation.At first I tried to undermine the importance of this assignment being part of my holistic experience, but as I grew through the program, I realised this was more than a big assignment, it was an ultimate task of building my character. This was what I came for in the first place, I couldn’t allow myself to lose sight of my intended purpose in fears of doing something I wasn’t experienced with. Experience is sculpted, you begin with a blank slate and then create, the idea you had at mind in first may not be the same when you’re finished. I had the ideas to put into the speech, all I had to do was refine it and speak my mind. I had my daily reflections of my solitude in the woods, sketches, weekly essays, notes from literature, notes from the environmental science classes, and lmy the experience of doing farm work and hanging out with my peers.
The day arrived, and as expected, I was nervous. My mind raced with the ideas I intended to talk about. My problem with public speaking was that I worry myself so much, that I forget what I planned to say, and end up winging it towards the end. We walked into the cafeteria after doing the last of our farm work, and the seats had been rearranged into a circle with a podium at one of the spots where a chair would be. We all sat down, I positioned myself to be one of the last few to speak.
One by one we rotated clockwise from our chairs to stand to the podium. Eventually, I rotated to where I was next to speak. I kept in mind how I should maintain proper posture, eye contact, and a clear voice.My speech didn’t suddenly come out as the greatest of them all at the end, but from that moment I felt a great relief from all the pressure I had built on myself.
I was my own obstacle, and I had to weaken my wall till it was frangible enough for me to walk through it. Whenever I have the task of facing a group of people, I remind myself the trail I went though in Vermont. Every opportunity I had to speak was one step towards my goal of reaching full comfortability in public speaking.