Mentors and Students Reflect on QUEST Camp 2016

Written by Chineme Obiefune

The importance of QUEST camp is not to be taken lightly. It’s one thing to receive your acceptance into the program, but when you meet everyone in your cohort and have the opportunity to interact with the mentors, it becomes more tangible and impactful. QUEST camp is the first true introduction new students have to the program, and it is also a new experience for the mentors. Those students who have already spent a year or more in QUEST are finally given the chance to welcome the new cohorts and guide them on their journey within QUEST.

14115460_10153599444436503_7813866350438802631_oAfter talking to Alia Abdelkader, Q27, I was able to get a better understanding of the feelings across the new cohorts. “I was really excited about QUEST camp going in, but I was also nervous,” she said. “I was really looking forward to having a great team and sometimes there can be pressure when you’re randomly thrown into a group.” This is the first hurdle most students have to face. Being able to connect with your team and work effectively can be difficult, but that is where the mentors come in.

It is our job to help students without forcing them down a certain path. Janae Savoy, Q23, put it best when she spoke of her experience leading a team. “It was interesting because I remembered going through what the students were going through”, said Janae. “But it was different being on the other side and having to guide them through.” This is something all mentors deal with at one point or another. Knowing when to interfere and when to let things play out.

QUEST camp is just as exciting for the mentors as it is for the students, but for different reasons. When I spoke to Victoria Zhao, Q24, she told me how overwhelmed she had been when she first came to QUEST camp. “There were a lot of really cool activities and people so it all felt a bit condensed,” she said. For her, being a mentor meant making sure her mentees had a good experience. There is a lot to cram into QUEST camp, and it is important to make sure that all students get the best experience possible.

My chat with Liam Mercer, Q28, perfectly summed up the spirit of QUEST camp. After all the games, activities, and presentations, he was more pumped than ever for the semester to start. “Going into QUEST camp, I was pretty excited,” he said. “And now I can’t wait for the next semester to start so that I can experience the energy around the QUEST program.” When students first arrive, it can be hard for them to open themselves up. QUEST camp gives them a chance to do just that. It pushes us together until we have no choice but to let our guards down and feed into the energy around us.

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