By Yi-Chou Lin, LDP Cycle 4, junior, Dept. of Bio-Industry Communication & Development
Many people have never experienced the real mountain climbing, but in the “Teamwork and Outdoor Leadership” course, we are about to test our limits and challenge the Mount Nanhu with an altitude of nearly3800m. Before the real challenge, we have tried ourselves out with a two-day climb to the Sung-Luo Lake (about1300m).
The purpose of this course is not to teach us the techniques of mountain climbing. Mountain climbing is just a process and not the goal itself. The truly important thing is how we learn to lead and challenge ourselves to step out of the comfort zone. Prof. Chu has emphasized over and again that this is not a mountain climbing course. We must try to evaluate the event from a third person point of view and also train our ability to observe the environment and all that is around us.
There are altogether 18 students participating in this course and none of them have had mountain climbing experiences. Since the beginning of the semester, all of us have diligently trained ourselves for the Mount Nanhu climb in July. As soon as the course started, we have tried to establish teamwork by high and low rope courses in Xintian. The training excited the team spirit and also prepared the team for the mountain climbing both mentally and physically. Physical strength is an important criterion for mountain climbing. In order to prepare ourselves well, every one of us set up our own physical training plans. Starting from jogging40 kmfrom April, we gradually increased the mileage. Physical training is an act of being self-responsible. Only with good physical strength can we overcome the difficult environment of the mountains. During the training process, we had also established a “Buddy System,” which divided all the students into groups of two or three, that we can mutually care and monitor the conduct of trainings as well as plan the details for the real climb.
After studying about mountains for several weeks, we packed our equipment and food and finally set out for our first climb to Sung-Luo Lake. Sung-Luo Lake is a small lake amid huge mountains. Surrounded by clouds, the beautiful scenery surrounded the lake has an alluring attraction as if there is a maiden hiding herself behind silk curtains. It is therefore also known as the “Young Maiden of 17.” During the climb, we walked deep into the mountains as if unveiling the mask of the maiden, discovering her beauty. Before setting off, Prof. Chu assign all of us a task: to find a connection between Sung-Luo Lake and ourselves. None of us had been to Sung-Luo Lake, and our only knowledge of the beautiful maiden was obtained through the internet. While climbing into the forests, I kept talking to myself and reflecting whether this trip could help me find my true self. How much would Sung-Luo Lake help me improve? I personally noticed the resemblance of my personality to the subtle beauty of the lake. Among its serenity I searched for my true self. Sometimes I am as quiet and peaceful as the lake; yet other times I am passionate and emotional like the light appeared through the clouds.
Shortly after starting of the climb, I began gasping, but as I walked on the gasping faded away. I began to get the rhythm in my steps and learned to adjust my body to the motion. In such process, I suddenly realized the meaning of leadership. All things are difficult before they turn easy. When we take the first couple steps, that is often the moment we feel most painful. Some people give up while some keep going with courage and perseverance. Though nobody knows what will happen next, to trust oneself and keep going is all what is required. That is leadership. Nobody is a born leader and we will always face difficulties in a team. We might have disputes or we might not agree with each other or we might not even be able to stick to our dreams. Yet a leader must guide the team like a captain steering a ship towards everyone’s goal. If the leader chooses to go forward without fear, s/he will grasp the heart of the team just like how we learn to control our body rhythm during the climb. S/He will then be able to guide the team steadily towards the ultimate goal.
However, as I kept walking I felt myself lost in the mountains. I focused on maintaining the best rhythm and forgot to look at the trees and flowers around me and observe nature’s serenity. Some of our partners never forgot to admire the beauty of the mountains. They kept sharing how they saw the beautiful mushrooms and crystal-like spider webs. Their innocent observance was deeply appreciated as I was reminded to stay sensitive while walking. Such is also the case of leadership. We set goals and try to achieve them. While doing so, we must remember to monitor all the situations the team is facing. Thus we will be able to see what will help or prevent us from moving on.
Luckily we did not run into dreadful weather and the sun shone upon us passionately. Above us was crystal clear sky and beneath us we saw endless mountains. We rested in the heart of the forests just like infants within the embrace of Mother Nature. Though we did not see the rain-washed bountiful lake, the small and slightly dry lake also gave us abundant joy.
On our way back we stood on the plain and waved goodbye to Sung-Luo Lake. We also thanked her from our hearts for teaching us so many things. We realized that nature has a lot in common with real life. I kept thinking about what I learned from Sung-Luo Lake. We have been facing life in a too complicated way. The trip has taught me to cherish life with a clean and natural mind and heart