Duke’s MBA really started on August 5 with the first class of the Global Institute, a one month program focused on team building activities and that consists of two courses: Leadership, Ethics and Organizations (LEO); and Global Institutions and Environments (GIE).
Besides our regular classes, Fuqua students are required to participate in several activities that seek to foster team building and develop a community spirit. The most important activities were Habitat for Humanity and The Team Challenge Day.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization whose goal is to eliminate substandard housing and provide homeownership opportunities in Durham and abroad.
There were two projects in Durham where Fuquans could get involved: restoring different houses or constructing from scratch several homes. At the construction site, students helped by cleaning the construction area, cutting boards, nailing boards or even framing. The ones who decided to do reparations had to paint, restore roofs, clear bushes, pressure wash, and so on.
The hardest part of this activity was the heat: we had to work under the sun, bearing temperatures of approximate 90ºF (35ºC) plus humidity. Durham, and North Carolina over all, is a very humid place, where is common to have 90% humidity and can suddenly rain.
I collaborated in the construction site, and had an amazing time working with some of my classmates for a good cause. It was really motivating seeing how your effort translates into something tangible. It was even more rewarding thinking that a family would benefit from that job.
Each six sections were divided into construction and restoration teams. In total, 432 Fuqua students participated in this activity, adding up 1512 hours of community service.
The Team Challenge Day
The last activity that really impacted me was the Team Challenge Day. This activity was held at the Triangle Training Center and was designed to let us know more about our teammates, at the same time we learned about best team practices. And we learned all this by participating in several activities that required some physical effort.
For instance, we were asked to come with a plan for fitting 12 into a square of 1x1meter, and doing it in 5 minutes. It was really funny discovering the imagination of some of my classmates. We also had to walk on a wire that was hanging 5 meters from the ground. To walk from one point to the other, we had to work on teams of two, which required a great deal of trust on our partners. We used climbing equipment for this exercise and lots of safety precautions. And many more activities!
But the one we were all waiting for was the Wall. Each section -72 people in mine- had to climb from one side to the other of a 4.5 meters tall wall. Only one person at a time could help the one climbing, and only three could help them from the top. Meanwhile, some people would be ready to catch anyone who might fall down from the wall.
The hardest part of this task was to get the first and last person up the wall. The first guy would not have any help whatsoever from the top of the wall -nobody had climbed up yet- and the last one would not receive help from the bottom -no one else would be down there to help. And we had to do this as fast as possible, we were competing against the other sections!
I wish I could show you a picture or video of that moment. For me was unbelievable. We did not stop cheering among each other during the whole exercise. When I was the one helping people climbing the wall, I was stepped on my shoulders, head and even face, anything to help my sectionmates climb that wall as fast as possible! And once at the top of the wall, I grabbed my teammates from their wrists and pulled up as hard as possible. Some of us literally flied up the wall!
Section 5’s time was 10:40 min. We ended second overall, just 14 seconds slower than the fastest section. Our class of 2015’s time was 72:39 min, 20 minutes faster than the class of 2014!!!
The Team Challenge Day was a great, fun experience. I learned a lot from my team mates during our feedback sessions, as well as when performing this activities. You also get to know yourself better, as you have to do a lot of self-evaluation to be able to answer some of the questions we were asked that day.