The Most Important Week of the Year

Will Nuelle

We spend a lot of time in the classroom learning about sine and cosine functions, Karl Marx and verb conjugations. Not that the derivative of an inverse cosine function doesn’t matter, but for most people it’s useless.  A lot of what we learn in our classes will eventually fall by the wayside. After 12th grade you might never need to know who Mehmet II is. Then why do we learn it if we don’t need to know it? Well, one thing is for sure: we’ve learned how to learn.\

When a long winter winds down, excitement proliferates; everyone wants the spring to come and no one wants to spend any more time in classrooms. Enter: PWEEK.

Project Week is Latin’s crowning jewel. After the monotony of the third quarter, students need a break and Project Week gives that. Whatever you do for Project Week, you’re probably going to learn something new, something that you haven’t experienced before, whether that’s learning 3D Printing or exploring the Sahara. These aren’t curriculum-based projects, yet you can learn more in this one week than you might learn all year. Granted you won’t learn much about Mehmet II, but –with the right attitude – you will learn a lot about yourself and your peers.

Take a group of thirteen Upper School students, some of whom know each other and others who don’t, and plop them down in the Los Padres National Forest, just north of LA. I was fortunate enough to have this experience in my freshman year on the project California Adventure. I only knew a few of the people of the project on the first day, but by the second night, I became acquainted with everyone. And what choice do you have? None. At school, we can choose to avoid one another if we choose to, to stay in our comfort zones, to rely on the same friends for four years. On Project Week, we are forced to engage with one another, to expand our comfort zones and to become friends with others.

Project week is a testament to how much can be learned outside the classroom. It may be unorthodox – you don’t see a lot of other schools sending students to India, do you? – but alumni say that Pweek’s was the most rewarding experience of their Latin careers. As opposed to being given knowledge all year, this is the week out of the year where we can discover knowledge and create our own understandings of the world around us. Go out and learn! With that being said, here are five tips to make Project Week the most rewarding experience possible:

1. Get to know everyone in your group: those you don’t know, those you (used to) dislike, those you were afraid of, and so on. Make it enjoyable for everyone.

2. Fully engage in whatever you’re doing. You won’t have a positive experience if you don’t commit to your project.

3. Try something new. There’s much to be said for new life experiences.

4. Respect your project leaders. Chances are that your project leaders are part of the project because it’s something they’re passionate about or find interesting.

5. Learn something. Not necessarily facts, but something about yourself or the way people communicate or about an environment that’s different from your own.]]>