Irons Oaks Trip Presents Challenges, Teaches Lessons
Experiential learning in the form of service projects and internships is an integral part of a Trinity education. For the students in Orientation to Psychology, however, a unique and powerful learning experience was presented through a recent outing to Irons Oaks environmental learning center in Olympia Fields, Illinois.
Many students in the class, which is taught by Dr. Mary Lynn Colosimo, associate professor of psychology, do not know each other and some are new to Trinity. This tested the makeshift team, which was suddenly forced to cooperatively problem solve while simultaneously dealing with their individual fears of failure as they faced various physical and mental challenges.
One in particular involved building a rudimentary bridge strong enough to support the crossing of team members. This activity had an impact on most of the students as evidenced in the papers they were required to write after the field trip.
“Connectedness,” reflected a student. “This is the concept I learned…not how to ‘work as a team’ to get across the bridge but to connect with my classmates as people, to be connected with them…based on common experience.”
In the midst of these challenges, students also discovered they had fears to face and to conquer.
“Conquering fears, or at least dealing with fears, will definitely benefit all of us on the different vocational paths we are taking,” wrote another student. “I had no idea that going on a class trip would become a day so inspirational that my whole outlook on things would change.”
This was the first time a psychology class participated in the Irons Oaks experience, and Colosimo suspected it would benefit the students in many ways, especially those pursuing a vocation in the field of psychology.
“If we can’t go in ourselves and discover who God created us to be,” she said to her students, “then we counsel others with complete disrespect. We have to know ourselves before we can be a gift to others.”
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