Agents of Change Module 1: Discovering Myself

By: Leopoldo Llinas, Program Director Agents of Change, Palmer Trinity School

This program consists of six modules which, through a structured schedule of experiential education, provides young men and women enrolled in the Social Entrepreneurship class at PTS with experiences that will help them develop their leadership, communication and teamwork skills. These tools will then be implemented through an initiative led by the participants themselves, designed to bring a positive impact to their communities.

The modules are led by an Outward Bound Instructor (Thomas Oxnard) and The Academy Coordinator (Leopoldo Llinas). Module 1 “Discovering Myself” took place September 24-28, 2014 in the Pisgah National Forest in the Linville Gorge area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This area is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” The Blue Ridge Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. More than 200 million years old, the Appalachian Mountains are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.

Student participants learned leadership capabilities while exploring the incredible natural surroundings of the Pisgah National Forest. Through these experiences they also increased their levels of self-confidence and environmental consciousness while gaining insight on their own process of self-discovery.

The objective of this first module was for students to develop self-confidence by recognizing their strengths and limitations. This module is designed to discover personal leadership and learn how to apply it in accordance with one’s individual core. An atmosphere conducive to discovering participants’ abilities and their reach was created through various activities and challenges.

North Carolina Outward Bound used the model proposed in Covey’s Four Roles of Leadership to deliver the tools, processes, and context to lead successfully — even in a time of turbulent change. Participants realized that all leaders want to change the status quo, but they use different means.

Students learned to find and set-up camp sites, how to navigate terrain, read maps and to use a compass. They were challenged by new activities such as rock climbing and rappelling. Another activity was the group initiative “Up and Over the Wall”: a simple but awesome challenge where the group had to get everyone over a 13 feet tall wall safely.

The program was based on the Four Pillars of Outward Bound: self-reliance, craftsmanship, physical fitness and, above all, compassion. These values helped our students see the world in a new light and understand their role in it.

Students were encouraged to reflect on who they are and on their relationships with others, to listen to the perspectives of their peers, and to understand the value of engaging with individuals who may hold different or competing opinions. Students shared their passions and skills with the group.

The course was specifically designed for working on team planning skills and problem solving. Other skills acquired included time management, social competence, intellectual flexibility, and self-confidence. Module 1 took the students out of their comfort zone into their stretch zone to build their confidence to take on greater challenges.