The first ORA course at Yale was an amazing success last week. Focusing on the themes of leadership and teamwork, the activities and lessons were tailored to improve public speaking, confidence and teamwork skills in the students.
The week began with a visit to Escape Rooms in New Haven, where ORA pupils had to work together to solve the mystery and get out of the room. With perseverance and teamwork, they escaped and learnt the importance of listening to every member of the group to achieve as much as possible.
The leadership theme resulted in a series of key classes exploring styles, definitions and political agendas of leaders. As well as completing exceptional essays comparing world leaders, students also had the opportunity to reflect on their own skill sets and discover what they needed to improve. With the help of peer and mentor feedback, pupils finished the week more aware of their own leadership qualities and with a more developed set of skills.
Public speaking skills were tested and refined during the Debating workshop early in the week. After learning how to form arguments and speak with confidence, ORA students split into teams to debate about the existence of aliens. With some spacey theories and ideas, the debate proved interesting and was a great forum for everyone to improve their public speaking skills.
The Teamwork and Confidence Building Challenge early in the week kept students on their toes as they worked as a group to complete a series of tasks. Puzzles and navigational activities saw the logical students and geographers step forward, whilst the rest of the team added to the discussion and offered their own ideas. By the end of the excursion, it was clear to see that all of the pupils had improved their teamwork skills significantly.
There was also an exciting tour around the university campus this week, hosted by a current student. Visiting famous buildings like Woolsey Hall and the University Library amazed pupils, who also got to see one of the few surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible.
To find out even more about their surroundings, students were taken to the State Houses in Hartford to learn about the judicial system. Sitting on judge’s benches and giving impassioned speeches on podiums amused pupils, as they were taught all about how State laws are made. A look at one of the two only portraits of George Washington in office was another highlight and topped off the law enforcement trip nicely.
The final few days of the course got pupils testing the skills they had acquired during the week with a Debate and Public Speaking Competition. A round of Mind Gym encouraged students to think about things in a new way, with techniques designed to improve productivity. One of the clearest examples of the success of the team building workshops throughout the week was the second visit to the Escape Rooms in New Haven. With excellent teamwork, the group managed to escape in record time and finished with the fastest time on the leaderboard.
A delicious group meal and dessert on a New Haven restaurant rooftop ensured that the memories made during the week at Yale were fond ones. We hope to see many of the pupils return to ORA next Summer and join another fantastic and valuable course.
Though we have said a sad farewell to the wonderful students on the course, we can’t help but feel excited for the ORA Yale programme in the future. Keep an eye on the ORA website to see opportunities to study here in the future.