Monday, November 12, 2007

Every Rose has its Thorn

Now that you have all gotten to hear about all of the great and wonderful things that happened on our trip to Tennessee, I feel that it is my duty to shed some light on some of the more challenging and frustrating aspects of a trip, and a project, like ours. This is in no way intended to bring negative attention to the trip or anyone involved. It is merely a way for us to share our struggles in hopes that our mistakes, or even those things which were out of our control, can be avoided in the future.

The first thing that pops into my mind when I begin to list the challenges that we experienced is simply the matter of group dynamics and how those dynamics become amplified the longer a group is together. Anyone who has been on a vacation or trip with several people will immediately know what I'm talking about. I'm sure we can all remember those family vacations when mom and dad would threaten to "pull the car over right now" if those in the back seat didn't start behaving. Although our troubles were a little more valid than the childish pestering that goes on in most back seats, we still all have personalities and when they are forced to be together for five straight days they will clash. I don't know that there is really a method for handling this type of challenge because every person handles it differently. However, I feel it was the first and most important challenge that we had to deal with because it could have kept us from accomplishing our goals for the trip. The best way we combated this was to have moments when we could completely forget about the project and just enjoy being together. It helped us realize that our problems were not really with each other but stemmed from frustration and anxiety about the project.

The second challenge we had to deal with was the unfamiliar surroundings. My classmates have talked about the beauty of the campus and how impressive many of the campus structures and buildings were. However, when it came time to set up the camera and do an interview we weren't able to pick and choose where we wanted people to be or the places with the most photogenic backgrounds. Our interviewees were gracious enough to give us their time, so we wanted to go where it was convenient for them. In our main interview room we found ourselves overturning a table with the Lady Vols logo on it for our background. The sound was a whole other animal as the traffic and the campus' apparently robust public transportation system were always nearby. At one point a crew of men carrying leaf blowers walked right by our interview room at which point I began to suspect sabotage. However, in the overall scheme of a one hour interview, a few moments of train whistles and car engines won't ruin all of the footage.

The last challenge is time management, and it is one that we have been dealing with, not just on the trip, but throughout the project. However, as I said earlier, minor issues are greatly magnified when seventeen people try to travel together. With that large of a group, something as simple as going to the grocery store becomes a trip that requires five phone calls to plan. These little stresses really began to pile up over the course of the week along with the added stress of our ever-shrinking time frame. If there is one thing I learned this past week its that no matter how well you plan and communicate, something will go wrong, someone will not be informed, and you have to move on and just deal with it.

I think as a group we did an amazing job of rolling with the punches. Even if we knew we couldn't quite make lemonade with our lemons, we were at least going to get lemon flavored water. I think the fact that I am able to think back on the trip with such a humorous tone says a lot for our ability to overcome the challenges and obstacles that we faced. I hope to see you all on December sixth so we can fully share this semesters experiences with you.


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