Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Life Changing Adventure: Disneyland Reflection by Justin

It was a cold, winter day... or was it autumn. I don't remember. Amidst the conversations within the student council room, Mrs. Becker, I believe, walked up to the front of the classroom to give us an announcement. As we sat there listening, she told us that Student Council will go on a leadership retreat at Disneyland. At that moment, the class went into jubilee as feelings of excitement filled the room. Sitting in my chair, I was shocked. Never had this happened in all my years being in student council. To put it simply, I was excited. I began to count the days until the day we would leave for Disneyland.

Now, fast-forwarding towards the day we would leave, all of us, one by one, assembled in Bellingham International Airport. As everyone socialized amongst each other, pure excitement became the word to describe everyone's faces. I was no exception. I knew that I would partake on adventure full of joy.

Throughout the plane ride,  I had a conversation with one of my close friends. This friend in particular had been my friend ever since I joined student council back when I was such a shy person and, in my opinion, she helped me break out of my shell that I was trapped in. As we were talking, I began to realize that I stopped being awkward around people most of the time. Until that moment, I didn't know how natural it was to interact with others. I would just usually keep to myself. However, I realized that I am able to start friendships with others, like any other person, thus giving me confidence to be the person I am today. That was the first realization that I had as a result of this trip; the first of many. Then, after our flights, we landed in Los Angeles. Our trip had finally commenced.

The next day, we walked to Disneyland for our first leadership seminar. Excited for what was in store for us, I ran towards the land of dreams; the happiest place on Earth. Then, as our first seminar began, I wondered what I would learn that day. There, we met with our leader and we went through our  first leadership training session.

At the time, I learned the usual stuff, such as “What makes a good leader?” and things like that. Though I felt as I have heard that kind of stuff before, I still had the will to learn more. That was when I learned about Walt Disney and what made him a good leader. Walt Disney is a person who started out as an animator, but he ended up being much more. Though there were many good qualities about him, there was one thing that stood out to me the most. I learned how he had to adapt in many situations, a really good quality of an effective leader. As the person explained, that was when I learned just how leader-like he was. Before, I didn't think much about him, but now, I see him as a role model; someone whose values are those I want to emulate. Right then and there, I realized what it takes to be a good leader, one that would be a positive influence at the school.

The next day was our next training seminar. Trying to keep the events of the day before out of my head, we walked into California Adventure, the park right beside Disneyland. Over there, there were many things that had happened, but the one that stood out for me was when we had to balance frisbees on our heads as we walked through something like an obstacle course. While doing this, I thought that if I walked fast, then there would be less time to complete it, therefore, less chances to fall. That was something that was completely wrong. Speeding through the course, I noticed that I kept on falling down, along with my frisbee. Though I didn't think of it at the time, while writing this, I realized something.

Life isn't something that you can speed through, nor is it something that you can speed through. I thought I could do it quickly, but that didn't work out whatsoever. When relating this to my life, I could say that, during many sad moments throughout my life, such as the death of my father, I thought that it would all work out simply. However, it doesn't always go as planned and that one would have to accept any obstacles that would happen. I thought that it would all go quickly, so that many of these sad moments wouldn't hurt me. However, life doesn't speed up for you, nor is it something which you can speed up yourself. After looking back on those kinds of moments, I learned that life is complex and you have to go through it slowly, facing any obstacles in the way.

Then, later, we went on Soaring Over California, a ride that's meant to mimic the feeling of flying, while images of California showed up on the screen. As I sat down, when we were lifted in the air, I felt as if I was weightless and free. After a while, as the images were displayed on the screen, the chairs began to move as if we were really soaring over California, over a vast landscape that seemed endless. As I reflect on that particular moment, I realized that Soaring Over California is also analogous to life. It is something where you can be free as you go through many places throughout your entire life. This was when I realized something that changed my views on life.

I realized that there are many obstacles in life. After all, life is complex. You would have to face obstacles eventually and you would eventually have to find a way to get past them. Despite all of that, I also realized that life is a vast landscape. Keeping that in mind, I learned that even though I would face many obstacles, life is endless and it is yours for the making. Of course, one would have to adapt in order to get through the obstacles, and that is something that I'm in the process of going through. Despite that, when the time comes where I would move on from all those undesirable feelings, I can finally move on and choose my path in life, because though life is extremely hard to navigate through, it is a blank canvas, free for you to paint all over.

Now, as I am writing this composition, I have come to learn that this trip had changed my life entirely. In the past, I was a person who always kept to himself, and as well, someone who thought that life is easy to navigate through, believing that everything would work in my favour, while at the same time, wanted to be a great leader. However, upon reflecting on the experiences that I had gone through in Disneyland, I have learned many things.

1. I learned just how complex life is and what obstacles I would have to face in order to live out my life.

2. I learned just how much I had changed, starting out as a shy eighth-grader who always kept to himself to a person who is starting to become more confident with his peers, someone who is breaking out of their shell.

3. I learned how to be a great leader too, learning from Walt Disney's example in order to learn just what it takes to be an effective leader, especially the ability to adapt.

I came to this trip to learn what it takes to be a good leader, but something else took place as well. I learned so many things that slowly changed my outlook on life. As all of these perceptions changed during those four days, I have come to realize just one more thing...

Disneyland truly is a magical place. I expected that by joining Student Council, I would only help out with the school, something that I enjoyed doing. However, after this trip, I became astounded at how my life changed in a way that I would never expect. I have learned so many things as a result of this trip and it will forever be an adventure I would cherish. Disneyland is not just the land of dreams or the happiest place on Earth. It is a place where people's lives change for the better.

The 4C's - by Jessica

Disneyland, its a place that proves that fun is ageless, that magic is a timeless concept, and that Walt Disney is one of the greatest Leaders of all time. The whole foundation of Disneyland is based of perseverance, Walt Disney was a man, who above all said yes to no.

The Disney YES Program was a hidden gem that I had not had any knowledge of. It taught me that a great Leader, listens, perseveres, and most importantly says Yes to No. That to be a great leader, you have to be creative, constant, curious confident and most importantly to be a great leader, you have to be aware of your core values. To have a clear mission of what your legacy will contain. The YES program has taught me that your impact can be small or large as long as you make one, you change the life of one or many that is when you know you are a great Leader.

Not only was this trip a leadership learning activity, it helped me to strengthen my bond with the other member of student council. I had known many of the member seeing them at meetings and in the halls but I realized I hadn't really known them. I got to interact with them on a deeper level, and I can proudly say after 5 amazing days with some of the best people ever, I have made 20 new friends. 

Now throughout this entire trip there was one continuous theme. Fun ageless timeless fun. Whether it was waiting to depart on a new adventure, singing Frozen songs in an Airport with 19 strangers to singing Frozen songs with 19 new friends from California Adventure all the way to the hotel. Sitting poolside in the nicest heat with 15 of my new friends to sitting scared on the Hollywood Tower of Terror, reaching new heights! One of the best ingredients to my 5 day in heaven was the fun I shared with 19 other adolescents.
Coming down from Cloud nine was one of the hardest things for me to do. Coming back to reality that was tough. I will leave you now with my most favorite Walt Disney Quotes, 

“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”~Walt Disney. 

Disney enthusiasm - by Nicole

As writing this with Disney music playing in the background,( specifically the world of colour soundtrack), trying to bring back that sense of nostalgia-I've came to an realization that it is possible to change a person in just 5 days. It wasn't just about going to thrilling rides, and hanging with friends ; no, it was about facing fears you never knew was possible, creating inevitable bonds you didn't know you could make, and creating a leader that you’ve proudly become. To say that this experience changed my life would have been a part of it, as this journey had changed my outlook, as I’m Possible. To Beyoncé and Sharkishia inside jokes, near-death ride experiences, singing frozen and dancing under the captivating night lights of Disney, and to late night and morning singing sessions by the pool - I happily say that this experience has been one of the happiest moments of my life. I proudly thank Disney for providing a group of crazy Beyoncé obsessed leaders to their landmark, and the most thanks to Mrs.Becker for awarding us this amazing opportunity that has truly changed my life in the best way possible.  

When I first stepped onto Disney, I can just feel the magical aura that came along with it. Its as if all your problems went away, and all you could feel was the happiness fluttering inside your stomach. Lets be honest, nobody had really expected for the Disney leadership program to impact us as hard as it did. On our first day, I had learned to be flexible, to create your goal with the materials you've got. We had been taught of how Walt Disney came to succession, his struggles, and his game plan to over come them. After listening to his  moving endeavours,  I  realized that although I wasn't happy with my problems in my personal life - I knew I had the power to change my unhappiness and my mentality through the situation. Next, we had ridden on Space Mountain. At the time this ride was horrifying to me ( due to my excessive fear of roller-coasters), but as I rode this whilst gripping on Rashid’s arm, towards the end I felt proud that I overcame somewhat my fear. We also went to the Haunted mansion to test our ability to listen and care about our peers, which Rashid was my partner for. The purpose was to see if you can listen to your partner, while being distracted by objects around you. It was really funny because as we rode the ride, we were so competitive to  try to really success ourselves. Although it was challenging at times, we pulled it off. We also did some team building exercises, which was to prepare our trust and leader commands to our partner. One particular part I remembered was when there was objects all over the floor, and we were blindfolded so our partner can guide us to safety. As I was trying to listen to what my partner was commanding me, I heard his frantic voice at times through the course of the activity. At the end, I was told that our program facilitator was moving all the objects around as I was walking. The objection of her shuffling was that everything wasn't going to go our way sometimes, and we had to manoeuvre ourselves to get to our goal. Over the infinite selfies, and photo-bombing that day, new revelations were made and conquered. It was an incredible first day, to an amazing saga ! 

I think some might agree that the second day was the best out of all the five days. Maybe because it was the fears conquered or it was the endless laughter that came along, but this day was the highlight of the trip. Although we were accustomed to Disneyland since yesterday, it was still the same experience as you walked in. However, instead we walked to California adventure! From the name alone, it screamed the vibe of risk and dangerous experience. First, as were walking and discussing overcoming fears, we stopped in front of Hollywood tower of terror. I’m sure my face went white, and my stomach dropped. I though that I overcame my fear by going onto space mountain, but that soon vanished as I heard the screams of terror coming inside the dangerous building. For a second, I contemplated of going out, but then I came to an conclusion that I knew I would regret it if I didn't go in. I was pretty much shaking, and so I sat next to Pallvi and Rashid. I felt bad for Rashid yesterday, so I opted for Pallvi to grip onto. Honestly for me, it was one of the scariest rides. I can faintly remember the sound of terror as we were  going up, and I still shudder to this day. Although it was supposed to be the opposite effect, because of the ride it kind of put my morale down. I said to myself that if I cant even ride Hollywood tower of terror, I couldn't ride anything else. However, the leadership program went on and we discussed that I AM POSSIBLE, and how to achieve our career choice and goal in life. We also talked about what legacy we wanted to leave behind, and soon we rode Soarin over California. It was such an breath taking experience, and I truly felt we were flying. Sooner than I anticipated, the leadership program ended that day, and we were by ourselves. Our facilitator even had said that we were one of the most inspiring group of leaders she had worked with in a while, even saying that we inspired/taught her! (Shout out to Kimi!)
 The first thing everybody wanted to ride was California Screamin’, but first they wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel. It was Marco, Shiraz and I in one booth, and I was internally panicking on riding California Screamin’. I said that to both Shiraz and Marco, and they had told me they were also afraid also. One of them told me that if I did it, then they would. I then set myself to do it for them, as I didn’t want them to be robbed of the thrill of California Adventure. However, as we were walking from the fast pass lane to the ride, all thoughts blanked out. I kept telling myself, you cant do it- you’re too scared. I looked for my friend for his end of the bet, but I discovered he wasn’t going to do it. Thus, Janelle was my riding buddy. At that point, I told myself that because he’s not doing it (and a couple of other people) then I shouldn’t do it. As they were sitting and buckling their seat belts, I actually got out of the ride and almost walked out. However, I saw Maureen and Shiraz waiting in line for the next seats. At that moment, I had a sheer epiphany as I looked at them ; they had told me of their horrendous fears for this ride- and I thought that if they could do it, then so can I. I was seated next to Janelle, and went for the ride of my life. I couldn’t believe that one push of confidence could really conquer my fear. Ever since that ride, I became such an adrenaline junkie, and I anticipated for the big drop and fast rides. To be honest, to a point that ride had changed my outlook, and every ride was deemed boring in comparison. I had even rode Space mountain again, and it wasn’t even that scary!  At the end of the day, with my fears truly conquered- a new person was brought up ! 
At the end of the night, we had watched the World of Colour show. I had watched it with some of my homies( inside joke ), and it was such an experience. Later  when the show ended, whole student council(and a few teachers) sang and danced under the night sky and twinkling lights of night Disney - as we walked through the hustle and bustle of the after math. 
For the next day, we had done the scavenger hunt which was a blast! I loved it because we actually explored Disneyland, instead of going on every ride (which we did). I was paired with my lovely team Nadia, Janelle, and Shweta. We were the last ones that had entered Disneyland, and all we could see was everybody sprinting in all directions. Then all of a sudden, this man in a Disneyland vintage car approached us, and offered us a free trip to go to Fantasyland. We took a gamble and said yes. As were riding by, we saw a huge line for ship and dale (one of the scavenger hunt necessity), and a few groups waiting for them. As we rode by, we took a selfie with ship and dale, (they even waved at us!) and saw the look on Justins astonished face was priceless. When we arrived to fantasy land, we saw PETER PAN! We honestly could not believe our luck, as there was no line for the large attracted character. After encountering Peter, we were on cloud 9, and skipped all over fantasy land. However, we heard Mrs. Becker and Vanessa calling us- and they were almost in the front of the line to Anna and Elsa! Our luck just got bigger and bigger as we hugged and said “I love you” to our awesome chaperones. After being stars strucked by them, we were on a roll and we couldn't back down. We met Jasmine and Aladdin, explored every inch of Disneyland, took selfies with Storm troopers, and overall had such a fun time. Even though we hadn't won, it was okay because we honestly had the best time that morning. 

Disneyland was and will always be the best experience in my high school career. Although in this blog post I hadn't included the last day, and a thousand inside jokes, I figured this post was too much. To yelling Beyoncé and sharkishia on the rides to starting random applauses in large crowds, this trip was filled with my new found family, and memories that will last a lifetime. :)