One of the more interesting things that happened personally while I was on the trip was that I again realized that I am old now, but yet, not that old. My dear snarky sisters have been reminding me that I'm older than dirt for about 10 years now, and recently I have begun to accept that. However on this trip I was put in a very interesting position socially that caused me to do some deeper introspection about myself.
On the trip I was considered staff/faculty. That means I'm supposed to be an older and wiser sage. (haha, right). I was clearly older than the students and have advanced farther in my life both personally and professionally. However, I was still different from my counterpart Emil because I am actually much closer in age to the students than I am to him. So I was stuck in this weird limbo area of being the "grown up" but yet "cool and hip enough" that the students still wanted to hang out with me on a more casual/friend level. Now it doesn't sound that ground-breaking but it was, at least to me. Before making decisions about situations I had to step back and remind myself "I am not a student" and take that under consideration before acting or reacting. In order to remain a neutral authority figure I had to make sure I didn't fall into any social group and that I could remain friendly with everyone. Even if I hadn't been in this specific situation it would have been hard because I tend to have the worst poker face ever. If people irritate me or I find something ridiculous it's very hard to not show that on my face.
I think the place where it came into play most was mediating between groups of students and trying to remain a neutral party as best as I could. In a group of 28 students there are bound to be cliques and personality clashes abound. As a faculty member I needed to make sure that the cliques and personality clashes did not boil over to the point that it interrupted the purpose and flow of the trip. Yet at the same time, I was friendly enough with many of the students that it was hard to remain a completely neutral party when it came to students acting annoying or ridiculous. If I wasn't as awesome and cool as I am then they wouldn't have spoken to me as much as they did and probably wouldn't have shared as much information with me as they did. I know this because there was lots of stuff that they told me that they didn't tell Emil who was also there, but in different position as me. I was both inside the "inner circle" as well as being on the "outside." Very much in limbo.
This year has been a very interesting one in terms of personal growth. I've done lots of "professional adult" things that I've never done before. I've enjoyed it all and I haven't felt resistant to it at all. But it has been really interesting for me to think about and reflect upon over a longer period of time. It's one of those funny growing up things that everyone deals with. I hope I can continue to do it with some grace and dignity and not totally make a fool out of myself while navigating through the life cycle.