On one of the final sessions of an eight-week progression, a class-room of 8th graders at H.B. Lee Middle School looked more like family than classmates. As they reviewed the core values of Outward Bound, students gave examples of how compassion, excellence, integrity, and inclusion of diversity are displayed in their lives and at their school. One student commented, “in this class we are happy about how different we are.” This sentiment is what makes the AVID (Advanced Placement Via Individual Determination) Classes unique, and the Outward Bound Portland School Program helps these students to explore these themes, and gives them the language to discuss them.
This particular class session was designed to demonstrate diversity among the class, and how that diversity brings a richness of perspective, experience, and understanding that makes the group strong. Students were divided into two sides of the classroom and asked to cross over the middle if they could identify with the statement read, such as, “I am planning to go to college”, and “I am multi ethnic.” It showed a visual representation of diversity, vulnerability, and uniqueness and commonality of experience. Students were urged to use Outward Bound values to be respectful and observant as student chose to cross the room in response to questions.
To debrief the session, the Outward Bound instructors asked questions such as, “how did it feel when you were the only person to cross the room?” and “how do you make groups inclusive?” A major theme of the debrief was “lunchroom behavior” and how to be inclusive and make “outsiders” feel welcome. Mrs. E-Y, the class teacher, said she saw the group really come together on their ropes course expedition one month earlier with Northwest Outward Bound School. “They have been closer and more open with each other ever since.” With one session left for these 8th graders in their 12 week progression, they are excited to have had the opportunity to participate in this Outward Bound programming.