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A patient mentor

Filed in Blog, Germany by on March 13, 2017
by Benjamin Z.

As I entered the cable car at the base of the mountain, my mind was racing with nervous excitement. I signed up for a ski trip to the Alps, and this was my very first time on skis. Lack of experience would normally rule out the slope I was about to attempt, but I decided to throw caution to the wind.

As I peered out my window into the snowstorm, I could see how the ski slope was flanked by a deadly steep ravine. Not a place where forgetting how to turn would be forgiven lightly.

At the top of the slope, I put on my skis and grasped my poles tightly. With the steadiness of a baby deer on ice skates, I lunged forward. My speed increased above my ability to control it, and I quickly lost my balance and fell.

As the friends I was with grew smaller in the distance, I was grateful when I heard a familiar voice behind me. “You’ll need to learn how to control your speed like this.” My friend Saskia has stayed back for me!

As Saskia had grown up near the Swiss Alps, skiing was a natural to her was walking. In what must have been an agonizingly slow pace for her, she patiently guided me down the mountain with helpful pointers.

I slowly descended the mountain in an exhausting cycle of falling and getting back up again. Always gaining speed due to the steep gradient, then losing control and falling. I was grateful every time she helped me get back up and put my skis back on.

By the time we got to the bottom of the slope, I was completely wiped out and ready for lunch. Sheltered from the unrelenting winds of the snowstorm, the ski hut at the top of the mountain was a cozy and warm place to eat lunch.

Somewhere between the cable car ride to the top and the end of lunch, Saskia’s pointers had finally taken effect. As I began my second journey down the slope, I suddenly felt much more secure on my skis. I leaned forward, gained speed and the then controlled that speed in a way I hadn’t before. I managed even the steepest parts of the slope by keeping in mind Saskia’s tips.

By the end of the day, I was skiing confidently and having the time of my life. It was a completely new skill; a new experience. In a weekend trip that got me way out of my comfort zone, I learned the necessity of taking risks and the value of a patient mentor.

About the blogger

Benjamin Z. is studying abroad at Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen in Germany.

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