The Kalu Yala experience and lifestyle is blossoming into much more than existed at the beginning of this semester. Large gaps are being bridged and connections are forming between outside parties that had yet been established. As the semester reaches the final weeks, the Kalu Yala interns and directors have created an atmosphere where ideas and opinions are expressed openly. People at Kalu Yala have the ability to utilize their skills and experiences to complete a project of their choice.
This freedom to build your own experience allows individuals an opportunity to tap in to something beautiful. While experiences are shared and relationships grow we begin to see the unity that has formed within this group of folks who were once only strangers. Our day-to-day lives in the valley have only strengthened the ties between each person. There may have been a few adjustments that were made to make life easier and group morale at a constant high, however these were only slight adjustments. According to Bruce Tuckman, groups develop through a series of four stages. These stages are forming, storming, norming and then performing. In the forming stage, individuals test the water so to speak. Boundaries are identified and group members acknowledge relations, skills and personalities of other group members. Individuals are also motivated to be accepted by other members in the group and work to avoid conflict. The second stage is storming. In the storming stage different ideas are expressed and are competing for consideration. Members of the team open up to others ideas and perspectives; these ideas and perspectives and confronted and opened for debate. Some groups pass through this stage very quickly while other groups struggle and never pass through to stage three. The storming phase can be painful and unpleasant but can be beneficial to a group and serves as a stepping-stone to the third stage of this theory, which the norming phase. In this phase roles are adopted and standards are set. The group becomes cohesive and resistance is overcome. The final stage of this theory is performing. A group in this stage is likely to achieve tasks as a single unit smoothly, effectively and without any conflict. Team members are often self-motivated and willing to complete tasks to their fullest degree. There is some flexibility within these stages and it is possible to revert back to a previous stage. For example, if a change in leadership occurs and conflict arises it is possible that a group will enter the storming stage again. These stages of development can apply to many scenarios but not all. I do find that this theory provides a common foundation for many small groups involving people without any previous relations. For our group of interns and directors this semester, I think we reached the performing stage very quickly and avoided any obvious conflicts before they grew out of control. We recently hosted a pig roast in the valley on the tenth of March and roughly 75 guests attended what was the biggest gathering we have had so far in Kalu Yala history.
The group was performing smoothly the week before the party and we functioned as a single cohesive unit, just as many groups do during the performing stage. With this being said, Kalu Yala has the ability to bring possibilities to life and create a family out of a group of strangers. If there is one thing to take away from this, it is that with a positive attitude and a solid group of people a family will be created.