An interesting shift occurs around this time at the academy in that we have started calling the base “home”. I caught myself and a few others doing it over the weekend while we were in D.C. sightseeing. “What time do you want to head home?”, someone asked. I even received a text message from one of my floor-mates asking what time we would be home.
Of-course there is no substitute to our actual “homes” where our hearts and our families are, but the National Academy has become our temporary home and those who share in our experience have become our family.
We are at the half-way point of our 10 weeks and it feels like a lifetime ago that I set foot on the Marine base and was completely and utterly lost (both figuratively and literally). When I walked into my dorm room, I was secretly wondering how I was going to sleep in a twin bed comfortably and share a bathroom with 3 other people.
Because humans are inherently adaptive, everything seemed to work itself out organically. I hardly remember what it was like not knowing my roommate from Hawaii, Sherry. We were so polite and considerate in the first few weeks — now she grounds me to our room for my own good so I can’t sneak back to the Boardroom. She’s made me an honorary sister since I’m an only child. In the Hawaiian culture, Ohana means “family” in an extended sense of the term (blood-related, adopted or intentional) and that means no one gets left behind – especially not in the Boardroom.
I know there are a few followers of this blog that will be attending future sessions of the NA and are worried about the academics. Based on some of the e-mails I’ve received, I know there are some of you who have not been in a classroom setting for quite some time and have some trepidation about writing a paper in APA format (if you don’t know what that means, you might want to brush up on this topic).
To you I say, get organized immediately. You will be given a syllabus for each course and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the expectations and upcoming assignments. Buy an assignment notebook (not kidding) or download an app for your ipad (I use iStudiez Pro) in order to stay on top of your assignments.
|Mock TV Interview Media Class|
You will spend a considerable amount of time writing papers. The papers will be longer if you are in a graduate level class. You will also be required to meet outside of class on group assignments. If you take a media class, you will be required to give interviews on camera in a one on one setting with a reporter and later give a press conference in front of the press corp. If this scares the crap out of you, sign up for it. My public speaking class required us to give an introductory speech on the first day of class. The speeches get more complicated (informative, persuasive, etc.) as we go along. If this scares the crap out of you, take it. It might seem overwhelming in the moment, but I promise you will be better for it.
The same holds true in the social events. Spend some time with officers from different places. Talk to the international students and learn about them. If you aren’t normally social, sign up for organized outings that will force you out of your comfort zone. Please do not sit in your room. There have been a few times I have been working on a paper (trying to stay ahead) and got an invitation to the Boardroom from someone I didn’t know very well. The responsible thing to do is to stay in and finish that paper but you should do just the opposite. Go build a relationship. The paper will get done.
|U.S. Classmates with Marco from Italy|
Like anything in life, the level of reward you get from your NA experience will be equally proportioned to the amount you put into it. By that, I mean, take classes that will challenge you if you wish to learn. Get outside your comfort zone as that is the only way you will grow.
And if you are following this blog but have no future desire to attend the FBI NA, this advice is applicable to your own corner of the world. If you have put off doing something in your life because it scares the crap out of you, that is precisely why you should do it.