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10/04/2012

El Rally International: International Student Rally

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Despite my plans to get away from campus most weekends, a few Saturdays ago,  I returned to PUCMM to participate in the international student rally. A tradition at the university, the Rally Internacional allows new international students to get to know the PUCMM campus a bit better while working with other international (Haitian, US, etc.) and Dominican students. The rally itself requires teams to race around campus picking up clues and answering questions along the way. Inspired by the recent Summer Olympic Games, the Olympian theme was ever present in our clues and activities of the day.

After registering for the rally and getting a wristband I went looking for my teammates. Slowly, I found the other members with my same color wrist band. And soon enough, the purple team aka: Angry Birds, was ready to take off. Then suddenly it hit me, I was the only girl on this team of eight. I quickly let the thought go, and focused on the race ahead. I hoped that my extremely competitive nature and my athletic background would help me keep up. 

The countdown began, "Diez, nueve, ocho...tres, dos... uno," and we took off running. Given a paper with the clues for the rally, we started to read the first one as we were running. Too focused on keeping up with my speedy group of guys, I didn't even get a chance to look at the first clue. We ran into the Student Center where several chess boards were set up. An International Student helper (Estudiante de Apoyo) gave us our first question and task. Two members of the Angry Birds had to set up all the pieces of the chess board exactly how it should be at the start of any game. Then came our first questions,"When did the Olympic games begin? and where?" I could easily answer the second question: Greece. But I couldn't remember the date. We sped up the stairs to the third floor of the Student Center where we were asked to name ten Greek gods and their characteristics. Thankfully, we had a "cheat sheet" on the wall! After finishing up and getting our first star for completing the activity we fled the Student Center and headed towards the library across the way.

The next few rally activities were kind of a blur. I can remember running up several hills, completing a three-legged walk with a teammate, and attempting to find shade anywhere possible. It was nice to be surrounded by so many other competitive people during the rally. I felt confident about our performance throughout.

Perhaps that confidence turned into cockiness soon after, because I made a questionable choice along the way. We arrived at the PUCMM track and were given two options: Successfully kick ten soccer balls into the goal or jump over two hurdles. I immediately volunteered for the hurdles. I do not know why. In high school, I was a cross country person, not track. I had never attempted to jump a hurdle before. Could it really be that bad? Besides, one of my best friends in college was a track star, and hurdles were one of her main events. She made it look so easy. It couldn't be too hard, I figured. Maybe this was my motivation. Regardless, I decided to participate. As I took off running, I braced myself for the leap ahead. I was mentally prepared to clear that hurdle. I could even visualize myself clearing it, but beyond that... nothing. I couldn't imagine myself landing. When the time came for me to jump, I easily cleared the bar, just as I had imagined. It was a great feeling. With my teammates cheering from the side,  I was really feeling the adrenaline. Soon enough, the moment after I had successfully jumped over the hurdle I came crashing down on my knees. Like a good sport, I quickly got back up on my feet and kept on running towards the finish line, unwilling to disappoint or accept defeat in this challenge. I completed the hurdle task with minor injuries: one bloody knee and the other scratched up, some ripped and dusty shorts, and raw hands. "Shake it off," I told myself, "There's no room for hurt here. You have to push on." And "push on" is exactly what I did.

My team followed the rest of the clues on our sheet and finally arrived back at the starting point, ready to pass out after completing the incredibly strenuous rally. As a reward for completing the challenges, we all received complimentary Vita Malt/Malta (See the picture above: I grew up on this stuff!) and Cascada Water. A special thank you to our sponsors! [Insert product plug here]

As if the Malta wasn't enough (I would have been happy with just this), everyone received a certificate of participation. And what's more, prizes were given out to the top teams, those that completed all the tasks in the least amount time. Pleased with these lovely prizes, I quietly sat with my teammates in a grassy area awaiting the announcement of the first place team. To our excitement, we heard moments later that the purple team had won! We came in first in the rally! It was an awesome feeling, I'll never forget. As a reward, we received a trophy, more certificates, and the unofficial prize of bragging rights. I can certainly live with that! What an amazing end to all the craziness!

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