At the beginning of this trip, we were told of the ways in which Dragons students tend to form relationships with their peers. We start by forming, first getting to know each other, being friendly and (at times) uncharacteristically kind. After this honeymoon phase, we get down to business. We start to feel comfortable with each other. We know that we can push the boundaries at times. We think that it’ll be fine if we borrow things without asking or read over each other’s shoulders. We make sarcastic comments that require somewhat of a thick skin and don’t apologize after stepping on each other’s toes. We forget the pleasantries of saying a simple “please” and “thank you” every time we do things for each other. We each have our own little habits that frustrate others to no end. This is where the storming begins.
We get annoyed. We spend too much time around the same seven people who we have been seeing every single day since mid-January. We make passive aggressive statements and complain about one another to our families back home.
As young adults, we handle our situation quite well. We talk about what is bothering us and agree to try to change our behavior. We defend our actions and apologize for causing so much unintended distress. We accept each other for who we are and not who we want others to be. We put past arguments behind us and move forward with our relationships. This is the stage called norming.
In the aftermath of the storm, we learn more about each other than we ever thought possible. We know our peers inside and out. We can predict with accuracy how certain situations will pan out and how each of us will react. Together we are a unit, a group of people who can work together to solve problems and support each other in times of need. We are performing.
When I was asked at the end of January how I thought my relationships with my peers would progress throughout the course, I didn’t think much of it. I thought that everyone on the trip was delightful, sweet, and kind. I now know that none of them are the way they seemed back in Dhulikhel nearly three months ago. There are times when just the thought of spending more than an hour at a time with everyone makes me want to immediately book a ticket back home. Yet there are also times when I am overwhelmed with gratitude for them. I am so thankful that these are the people on my life changing adventure to a foreign country. I think of what my life would be like if I had never met them, never went on this trip, and never got to have the deep and thought-provoking conversations I’ve had with them. If these people weren’t in my life, I would be a different person. Even though I have only known them for a bit more than three months, I feel as if I have known them my entire life. I am deeply thankful for every single moment I’ve shared with each and every one of my peers. Although there were times when I simply couldn’t stand them, each person has had such an incredible impact on my life. On my Dragons trip, I have met amazing people and made lifelong friends, and although these relationships are far from ideal, I wouldn’t change any of them.
*IDGC = GLOS 211: Intercultural Development & Global Citizenship