On September 23 and 30, 2021 the Fall 2021 Puente Learning Community students were able to come together for the first time in-person through the Outward Bound California ropes course in McLaren Park, San Francisco. Due to Covid restrictions, the cohort was split into two groups over two dates which helped to support students and Puente faculty getting the chance to get to know each other in smaller groups (16 or less). Students and Puente mentors feasted on pan dulce and hot chocolate for breakfast and burritos and horchata for lunch and received Skyline College bags filled with academic supplies at the conclusion of their ropes course experience.
After the Puente Learning Community students participated in the challenge course, they were asked to share their reflections on their ropes course day. One student shared, “During my ropes course experience I learned many things about myself. I very quickly noticed that I don’t trust people. It was scary trusting in someone, and believing that they will take care of you. The ropes course made me feel safe and happy. I feel that recently the whole covid situation had made me more reserved, which I had realized. Joining everyone on the day gave me a feeling of happiness alongside my Puente Community or “family” that I haven’t felt in a while. The ropes course was a great opportunity for me to rela
x and let go of all the stress that has accumulated within me during these couple months. Being there with everyone and the people who helped all of us, made me feel comfortable. I realized that I really enjoy being outdoors and would like to surround myself around nature. Overall, the whole experience was amazing and I would do it all again if I could.”
Another student shared their impressions of the day, “The ropes course is definitely a memorable experience. It was out of my comfort zone in the sense of being motivated and pushed to do new things and accomplish things, when you thought you couldn’t for example, climb up 10 feet or more from the ground. Trusting complete strangers to support you. I know this was a learning experience to build trust and team bonding, but it did more than that in the end. The best part was being outside and finally meeting some of my classmates, teachers/mentors in person. The pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone and it was amiable to see team building and bonding. It built a bridge for our class community to be more united and familiar.”
One student shared that she is usually an introvert but was excited to be part of this day and was glad to have decided to come when she was originally unsure if she wanted to participate. Many students commented that they enjoyed meeting their fellow Puente Learning Community students for the first time in-person and were eager to hear about other upcoming in-person events like College Hour, a Sunday morning Sweeney Ridge hike/cleanup and a Halloween get together.
The Outward Bound staff provided a safe space for students and program faculty to engage with mental and physical challenges, be pushed out of their comfort zones, and build community through warm-up group dynamic games and discussions prior to getting harnessed up for the high ropes course.
We want to give a warm thank you to Dr. Newin Orante, Golda Margate, Luis Escobar, Jackie Flores, Roger Perez-Vaughan, Barbara Lamson and Roxanne Brewer for helping to make this field trip happen for our Puente Learning Community students! Si se Puente!
Article by Marisa Thigpen and Alex Urbina