Wilderness Engagement

This year’s trip to Niigata was a very new experience for me, especially since I had never gone hiking for that long. The ups and downs of the hills combined with the long hours were challenging for me, but overall, I learned a lot about myself and my relationship with nature.

Niigata is a very different place compared to the busy city of Yokohama. Being used to a city environment myself, I initially did think that I would struggle to adjust to the environment – however, I found that I enjoyed that time away. Being there for 5 days and being almost completely cut off from the city (through technology) for that period of time really made me appreciate nature and made me rethink the way that we as a society treat our planet, and why we need to work even harder to protect its natural form. I think this experience reminded me of how beautiful and important nature is to our lives.

Being in the wilderness and not having certain resources at the tips of my fingers (as I would in a city environment like Yokohama) also helped me develop the skill of self-reliance.  I managed part of my group’s resources during the hike by holding the food and by carrying part of the responsibility of holding parts of my group’s tent. I developed this self-reliance throughout the trip, knowing that if I lost or forgot one of these items, I would face the consequences of my own actions.

One of the most important things that I learned about myself was that when faced with challenges, I can be resilient. There were times during the trip where I felt discouraged, especially when I started to feel sick during the hike. However, I tried to stay as resilient and positive as I could and tried to push myself. It helped me realize that I can be resilient, which is a good reminder for when I feel discouraged or challenged in the future – not only in situations like that but also in a school environment as well.

I also think that being in the wilderness as a group strengthened our community as a whole. I tried to make sure that my role in the community was to be a reliable and easy person to collaborate with. Our hiking group made sure to be there for each other to give a hand; for example, all of us made sure to warn the people behind us if there was an obstacle ahead and we made sure to help each other up if one of us fell. My connection with not only my hiking group but with the YIS community was strengthened because we all took a new experience out of it (at least within our school environment) together. It helped me build new relationships with new people, especially as a new student this year.