Reflections on GIP Patagonia

Sonja Weaver-Madsen ’17

Over the course of ten days in January among the trees, mountains, and glaciers of Patagonia, 29 CBS students pushed themselves physically and emotionally as part of the Global Immersion Patagonia Trek. With the support of NOLS instructors and amid the crisp mountain air we each had the opportunity to practice leadership and teambuilding skills. We learned first hand that plans change as fast as the weather and how important it is for leaders to be able to clearly communicate changing plans and motivate their teams.

Our group consisted of nine students from the Columbia Business School community who, while we did not know each other well at the outset of the trip, quickly got to know one another closely around our campfire stoves and over meals of cous cous and soup. Each daily expedition gave us the opportunity to support the designated leader of the day – examining his or her leadership style and providing constructive feedback. We traveresed numerous streams and used the “train technique” to cross an especially strong waist-deep river. The groups persevered amid steep uphill climbs, constant variations in weather, wet socks, heavy bags, and one instructor’s ailing health. We built strong relationships, discovered new passions for wilderness survival techniques, and returned to CBS excited to share our learnings with the broader school community.

By the end of the expedition my team had covered over 35 miles of rough terrain and scaled a mountain to spend time reflecting on group feedback next to a glacial lake. We travelled the furthest south of any of the teams and it felt particularly significant to reflect on my growth as a leader while gazing at stunning glaciers at the bottom of the world.

Photo Credit – Matt Levine

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