The Trees

Describe a time when you experienced failure.

It was an excellent idea in theory—the fishing wire would be released from some unknown mechanism, invisible to the audience, and the paint strip leaves would fall, revealed the bare, jagged-looking trees that were supposed to make up our creative scene change. But the Odyssey of the Mind tournament was fast approaching. As I stared at the mess of bending cardboard, paint strips, and knotted blue fishing wire for which I was responsible, I was forced to admit that the reality of these trees was far from what my team and I had envisioned.

Odyssey of the Mind, perhaps best described as the sport of intellectuals, artists, and engineers, is a creative problem-solving program in which teams of five to seven students create 8-minute performances that fulfill various requirements—for example, a character that communicates silently, a moving set piece, or in this case, a creative scene change. Outside assistance is forbidden and the restrictive budget encourages the use of trash items and other unconventional materials. Since my first year of OM in the fourth grade, I have developed teamwork, resourcefulness, and divergent thinking. I have found confidence; I have learned to plan carefully, discuss whenever possible, and pay attention...

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