Back in October, I went to a conference where I learned how to be a superhero. You may be thinking "You can't be a superhero, that's impossible!" Well, really, it's not very hard. Superheroes aren't labeled as such because they can fly, or because they stop supervillains from conquering the world. They become superheroes because they actively step out of their comfort zone to make a difference.
How did I become a superhero? Well, here's my origin story. Back in the spring of my sophomore year at Olin, my UOCD project involved recreational mathematicians; those who find and show the true beauty of mathematics through a variety of methods. After speaking with someone at the conference about Olin, they mentioned that I would be a great addition to this conference called HATCH.
Months later, I got an email from the same person asking to apply to said conference. I complied, still a bit confused about what this conference actually was. I scrounged the internet for any clues as to what this conference could be, but I could find no specific descriptions of what would actually happen, apart from a handful of buzzwords like "creativity", "movement", and "inspiration". The only responses I got from people I emailed were that it couldn't be described.
So I set out in October on my journey to the conference, all the way out to an off-the-grid ranch in the middle of Montana, still very confused. I had been selected as some sort of "groundbreaker"; I wasn't quite sure what that meant but I just decided to roll with it and see what happened.
The conference itself was exactly as it had been described to me: indescribable. Every second of the 5 days I spent there I was surrounded by a diverse range of incredibly talented individuals. I shared a cabin with a few filmmakers who had some powerful messages to share. I built a cardboard dragon and learned how to ride a horse with an innovative product designer. I helped a schoolteacher redesign her curriculum to incorporate more application and meaning into her curriculum. A singer who traveled to too many places than I can remember gave me her album because I reminded her of one of her songs. I met the person who founded No Shave November, along with the guy who co-created Siri.
A cardboard dragon I made with a few product designers
It is really difficult to describe what actually happened, so I'll share the lessons I've learned. There were so many incredible people, both those who have already made a difference and those who are trying to do so. Every day, there were talks, workshops, and activities to encourage people to think differently, to think creatively, and to explore. Everywhere, people of all ages, professions, and backgrounds were sharing experiences and learning from each other. HATCH proves that mentorship doesn't have to be one way. You can learn from someone you consider "more experienced" just as much as they can learn from you, because we all have things to share.
A panorama of HATCH, with people sharing their experiences and challenges
When most people grow older, they fall into the same routine, and they sometimes forget how to explore, how to learn, and how to discover. We forget how to keep our minds active and curious, a trait everyone has when young. Everyone is scared of growing older, because they realize they have less time to do all the things they wanted to do. But that shouldn't matter. As long as you actively ask questions, explore, and discover, you can stay young, because questions lead to discovery, discovery leads to passion, and passion keeps the mind active. Creativity and curiosity are not and should not be traits we only have when young.
Step by step instructions on how to make a better world.
The only way we can progress is by realizing our problems and making an effort to change them. We shouldn't expect others to solve our problems for us. By stepping out of our comfort zone and making positive change, we can aid and inspire those around us to do the same. This "superhero" mentality will not only help others but also shape ourselves from who we think we are to who we want to be. My superhero name is Infusion, and my superpower is connecting disciplines to inspire others. I hope to inspire you to find your superpower, ask questions, and do something.
Infusion, A.K.A. Alexander Crease