Lessons Learned while Kayaking through Belize

Rebecca Bonco

Rebecca is responsible for counseling students and alumni on job search strategies, networking, and career development and works out of our Washington D.C. location. Prior to joining the Carey Business School staff, Rebecca worked at the Boston Consulting Group in Bethesda, MD. She also brings international recruiting experience, as well as non-profit sector experience as she worked for the American Red Cross Headquarters, Ashoka, and interned at FINCA. Rebecca holds a B.S. in Social Work from George Mason University and a Masters in Clinical Community Counseling from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.

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What does it take to successfully get a team of fourteen (twelve students and two staff) through a kayaking expedition off the coast of Belize while paddling through rain, wind, and waterspouts? Additionally, how do you keep morale high when your team is hungry, wet, and exhausted?

Twelve diverse graduate students from varying programs at Carey discovered firsthand the answers to the above questions on the first annual Leadership Kayaking Expedition in Belize, a non-credit leadership course offered over winter break. The students, supported by Rebecca Bonco and Mike Doyle of Carey’s Career Development team, charted their course through five islands off the coast of Belize along the world’s second largest barrier reef. Throughout the journey, they faced many physical and mental challenges that pushed them far, far out of their comfort zones, and the students were surprised by their own strength and stamina as raging storms kept them awake at night.

Each day, the group identified a pair of leaders whose tasks included communicating the day’s mission to the group, providing inspiration, engaging with the local guide, and ensuring safety. When the group reached a new island, emerging leaders made decisions about logistics—tents, kitchen, and facilities. The team increasingly became more efficient and quickly jumped into action when the torrential downpours caught them off guard and gear needed to be protected. The thirst for adventure brought twelve students to Belize, but it was adaptability, resilience, and professionalism that shaped them into leaders—below are six student-submitted videos that showcase their challenges and achievements.

STUDENT VIDEOS

Michael Brown, MS Health Care Management, 2015

Building Leadership in Belize by Michael Brown, MS Health Care Management, 2015

Siyuan (Ray) Cao, MS Finance, 2015

Belize Leadership Development Program by Siyuan (Ray) Cao, MS Finance, 2015

Xianlei (Allen) Dai, MS Finance, 2015 / Yidong (Absol) Pan, MS Finance, 2015

Johns Hopkins Carey Business School 2015 Belize Leadership Development by Xianlei (Allen) Dai, MS Finance, 2015 / Yidong (Absol) Pan, MS Finance, 2015

Amanda Gorski, MS Health Care Management, 2015

Hopkins Students Lead with Humanity in Mind in Belize by Amanda Gorski, MS Health Care Management, 2015

Heather Kelm, MS Marketing, 2015

Leadership Development: Belize by Heather Kelm, MS Marketing, 2015

Tianfeng (Joe) Sun, MS Finance, 2015

Adventure in Belize: Leadership Coaching – Carey Business School by Tianfeng (Joe) Sun, MS Finance, 2015

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