Submitted by Nathan Errampalli ’16
Sophomore Navigation (NAV) is a program all sophomores are required to take, in which they discuss the various aspects of their social, emotional, and academic life at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. Coming to IMSA was a life-changing event. The transition felt different than that of my previous arrivals to new schools, but it was even more nerve-wracking because of the added residential aspect. Didn’t I just go to a new school last year? The struggle definitely is real.
One of the first days at IMSA, we had to go to the main gym, where each of us got a name tag and was assigned a number. We had to find people with the same numbers and huddle up with them. The announcer called things out and then went through every group to see which group was the best. Of course, everyone thought that their group was the best. After two leaders from each group introduced the initial idea of NAV, each group went to a different part of campus where they could get to know each other.
We continued to meet with our groups every Wednesday of the first semester. In the beginning, some people did not participate due to not knowing anyone else. The leaders said that NAV was a closed group, where anything that is said within it does not leave. After asking a few other students about their thoughts, many said, “I never had a closed group where I could say anything and trust them not to tell others. This was new, and it seemed pretty cool.” The projection to them was that they would get to know the kids in their groups well and then they would feel comfortable telling others their thoughts.
The projection seemed accurate, but a key factor was missing in their calculations. Fatigue. The workload started to become more tedious, overwhelming many students. The large amount of work caused many to want to sleep in until 12 p.m. instead of going to NAV. Their bodies were too drained of energy to want to participate. Some people who were awake in the mornings would participate and provide insightful comments, but a lot of kids felt awkward or lacked the confidence to say things of the same nature.
Looking back, I wish I had taken the opportunity to play a larger role in NAV. I put off participating all semester, just passively listening, saying, “I will participate next time for sure.” I went to NAV and listened to what was said. I really regret how little activity and impact I created on the people there. Just by listening, I did learn a lot, but now seeing others in my group who participated, they seem to be dealing with the IMSA experience more effectively. I learned a lot from NAV, and that helped me become the person I am today. Currently, I am only half of what I could be if I stepped up to the plate, swung and participated.