ONE-YEAR AT GOIZUETA: SCOTT KAGAN – THE UNBELIZEABLE SUMMER FINALE
The summer will fly by, they said. It is a ton of work but strangely you will miss it, they said. Being the skeptic I am, I found these words hard to comprehend. Yet, as I sit in the start of my fall semester, I can certainly confirm both of those statements. Why do I think the summer flew by and how will I miss it? For starters, the old adage of “time flies when you are having fun” certainly would apply (see previous posts). Additionally, with such a jam packed schedule it is utterly impossible to be bored, which is usually closely related to time standing still. Fortunately, the culmination of the summer came in the form of a One Year class exclusive trip to Belize and Panama! 21 of us went along with representatives from Goizueta on an adventure I will never forget. Just when I thought I knew all there was to know about my classmates, we managed to grow even closer.
Our trip began in Belize, where we visited Belikin Brewery and a Coca-Cola bottling plant. I can still smell the sweet deliciousness of the famous Coke syrup (we got to poke our heads in the vault for about 2 seconds!). After our visit, things got real. We spent about 1.5 hours touring Belize by coach en route to Cave’s Branch Resort, located squarely in the middle of the Belizean jungle. For some reason when I heard we were going to a resort in the middle of the jungle, I was thinking about a Disney theme park version of the jungle, where you have all the amenities of home while looking out over a jungle a safe distance away. This is NOT the case at Cave’s Branch. There is no Wi-Fi, no cell reception, and there are no electrical outlets. Get ready to unplug – literally! It was actually quite a liberating experience. Also worth mentioning is that the cabins are open air. Instead of windows, the accommodations feature near floor to ceiling nets which allow you to be up close and personal with the jungle. Scary at first, but there is nothing like falling asleep to the sounds of rain slowly and methodically falling from the jungle canopy. I won’t give away much more other than to say that the jungle is beautiful and that the activities are memorable and incredibly unique.
From here, we moved to Panama, which provided an amazing contrast to our time in Belize. We got a behind the scenes look at the Panama Canal (on both sides), took a boat trip inside the canal to explore wildlife, and even stopped at the local fish market to enjoy some unique Panamanian cuisine. This was all incredible, but the journey was about to get even better. The trip “officially” ended on a Wednesday, so my wife Sarah got to fly in Tuesday night and we extended our stay through Sunday! Six other partners joined Sarah in the extended stay, and most of them coordinated their flights and airport transfers so they could travel together. Our extended time in Panama allowed the partners to become even closer with one another and our fellow classmates. Though a lot of time was spent relaxing by the pool, our concentrated group bonded even further and got a chance to really experience the culture of Panama. Another trip to the canal to see an enormous container ship lower through the locks, drinks at a rooftop bar in the old city, and dinner at a Panamanian restaurant featuring traditional food and folk dancing are just a few of the things we did. The trip was the perfect conclusion to my fantastic summer experience.
After returning from Panama the entire One Year class came together the day before the start of the fall semester for an ice cream social. Why? Because we hadn’t seen each other in over a week and needed to catch up, of course! Even still, when the complete class of 239 people appeared in the auditorium the next day, there was an obvious cluster of 62 One Year students who all sat together in allegiance. We have since been integrated with the Two Year class and have already learned so much about our new classmates. Each one of them brings with them a unique experience through their previous work experience coupled with new knowledge gained as they return fresh from their summer internships. I look forward to getting to know all of my new classmates better.
However, the feel around GBS is certainly different. The days of having only 62 people in the halls are over. There are now thousands of undergrads on campus, as well as the Two Year MBA Class of 2017. This makes for great opportunities to meet new people, but there is no denying the magical nature of having the entire school to yourself. The bonds you will make during the summer experience will truly last a lifetime. Take it from a skeptic; the summer will fly by and when it is gone you will miss it.