Leslie Koehn and Tunde Bamigboye are first year students at Booth who went on the 2014 Guatemala Random Walk trip. Random Walks provide Chicago Booth students with an opportunity to meet and bond with their future classmates before the rigors of the MBA program begin. I spoke with them to learn more about their experiences, including what it was like to roast marshmallows on top of a volcano.
EM: Were you nervous before the trip?
Leslie – To be honest, yes I was a little nervous. Going on a trip with a bunch of people you have never met can be intimidating and a little nerve racking but I was also excited for the new experience.
Tunde – No, not really. In my pre-Booth research, the common strain in the Booth experiences of people I had spoken to was how fantastic the RW trip was for them and how it was a time in which they all made life-long friends. A high bar for sure, but one I was excited for.
EM: What did you expect?
Leslie – I expected to learn, to connect with people, and get an idea of what my next two years at Booth would be like. In the end this trip did exactly that. I learned about the people, culture and geography of Guatemala. I learned about the amazing people on my trip, and I even learned some more Spanish. I was able to connect not only with the other first years on my trip but with the second years too. I came away knowing more about the people I would spend the next two years with and had a better idea of what to expect in my time at Booth through my connections with them.
Tunde – I hadn’t been to Central America before so I was keen on the cultural aspect of the trip. Guatemala was a first choice partly for the mix of culture and activities planned. Random Walk is also about people and I definitely came in looking to hear people’s stories. Something that was clear in learning about business school is how truly diverse the stories of your peers will be professionally and personally. The Random Walk was a microcosm of that experience of learning about others’ journeys to Chicago Booth. I was interested in learning about others’ pasts, their aspirations and what they wanted out of the 2 years in Chicago.
EM: How much contact did you have with your squad before you left?
Leslie – Our trip leaders set up a facebook group where we could all introduce ourselves and get excited for the trip.
Tunde – There was a dinner a few days before which about half the group attended. We actually picked Leslie up on a layover in Miami. It was interesting to see the lengths people went to fit the RW into their schedules.
EM: What was your favorite part about the trip?
Leslie – Roasting marshmallows on a volcano! This is something I never thought I would do, probably because I didn’t even know it was possible. We hiked up a volcano, across a lava field and then our guide pulls out a bag of multi-colored marshmallows, which at the time I thought was a very weird post hike snack. Then we go over to a vent and he shows us that the heat coming up from the ground can actually roast the marshmallows. We all huddled around the vents as a cloud rolled in across the lava field and roasted that entire jumbo bag of marshmallows.
Tunde – Zip-lining hands down. Throw in a fear of heights, 600 meters facing down on a line several feet above a dense treeline, acceleration due to gravity and you’ve got a stew going.
EM: How has RW affected your Booth experience?
Leslie – Coming in to orientation with a group of friends was incredibly helpful. It was great to see a few friendly faces among the sea of people.
Tunde – The second years are my go-to source for advice. The first years were a good base from which to meet the rest of the class. I’ve also applied to lead a random walk next year with one person from the group.
EM: How much contact do you have with your trip members now?
Leslie – Our group has a group chat and we all connect and talk to each other on the group chat multiple times a week. We also try to connect in person every other week for brunch, dinner or some other random event such as Whirlyball.
Check out http://theboothexp.com/randomwalk2014 for more pics of other random walks!