This past weekend, Jabari, Sarah, and I spent upwards of 12 hours in rental minivans with eight wonderfully rowdy Charlotte middle schoolers as we played games involving spotting cows and graveyards on the roadsides, one-hundred-and-twenty-one questions, rap battles, doing “college math problems” and counting to twenty over and over and over again.
The remainder of the weekend was a blur. As soon as we arrived in Boone, our group of 8 students, 2 guest instructors, and several Wilson Scholars ate lunch (mostly Chick-Fil-A and pizza, who are we kidding?) in the campus dining hall with Dr. Willie Fleming, the Chief Diversity Officer at App State, followed by a special campus tour given by Wilson Scholars and Student Ambassadors, Vicky Anderson and Javon Nathaniel.
After the tour, we had the opportunity to meet with several players on the ASU Football team and the ASU Men’s Basketball team. Jake, Jabari, and the kids scrimmaged on the football field! It was thrilling to watch; I don’t think the kids will ever forget that.
We spent the afternoon and evening doing leadership and team-building initiatives at the Camp Broadstone facility in Valle Crucis. There were several games of mafia, pizza, and s’mores involved, don’t worry!
Sunday morning, we packed everything into our fleet of vans and set off for Linville Gorge. “COWS ON MY SIDE!!!” would ring out from the back seat every few minutes or so as we were driving through the country farmland. Trust me, it was a lively group.
We met Jerry Cantwell, our hiking instructor, at Table Rock Mountain parking lot where he passed out climbing helmets to all of us. The hike up the mountain and the section of rock climbing/scrambling was a serious challenge for many of the participants. But, once we were at the top, we all agreed that it had been worth the struggle. The views at the top were amazing, and the camaraderie we all felt was even better.
The City to Mountains Student Exchange is sure to continue for years to come. The success of the 2017 program has only fueled the fiery passion behind this project. Thanks to the hard work of the Wilson Scholars and the open and adventurous hearts of the participants, we enjoyed a weekend of true friendship, mentorship, and bonding. And who knows, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some of those same students attending ASU in a few short years!
Written by: Gracie Bowling