Team Panama - Winners of the Random Walk Photo Challenge

By Pushya Jataprolu '16

Pushya Jataprolu '16

Pushya Jataprolu '16

With the photo competition for Random Walk 2015 surfacing a few days before the trips began, not too many trip leaders were thinking keenly about it. Since RW Panama was one of the last ones to start, the team was already behind on the competition. However, a couple days into the trip, the team of 20 quickly picked up the pace and emerged victorious, to the chagrin of several other participants and trip leaders. Jenya Batratskaya, one of the Random Walk Panama leaders, readily agreed to speak with ChiBus about their approach, motivation and strategy to win.

I was wondering if some of the students did not want to use their own accounts to drop so many pictures onto the ether, but Jenya’s group knew the easy workaround that the Booth Experience team (the organizers of the challenge) had suggested. “You could create alias accounts on instagram, it takes a couple minutes and you’re ready. In fact, on our team, about three to five people had not used Instagram before. But we all made sure to create accounts, either by our own names or aliases.”

Group wins like these usually come with group efforts and high levels of motivation amongst all, to win. When asked what they did to keep their energy high on the photos, she says, “Elena (another RW leader) and I would send updates to the team Whatsapp group on where the group stood in the challenge for the day, motivate the first years and made a great way to bond out of it.” When probed further, “By the second day of the trip, the group had bonded really well and now we had one common goal. This shot our team spirit through the roof. We would sit by the bar at the end of the day, sipping on our sangrias, uploading the photos to Instagram. We made the process fun for ourselves. Now after a full circle, we won a $500 happy hour for the entire group!”

RW Panama's trip leader, Jenya Batratskaya

RW Panama's trip leader, Jenya Batratskaya

I ask her if there were any key members who were instrumental to the win and she says, “Our superstar Angie Peng had a legit camera and did not back down from using it. Luis, one of the RW leaders had a GoPro for all the outdoorsy stuff, but it was also useful to build the material for us to work with.”

Jenya insists that she looks back at the photos often. “Oh yeah! And it has made accessing our good memories so easy. It is all one hashtag away. I’m glad we were able to capture significantly more details than we would have otherwise captured. “

In good old interview fashion, I am tempted to ask her what the top three reasons for their win were. She laughs and says “I would say team work, dedicated Random Walk Leaders who kept cheering the first years on and Angie Peng made the win happen.”

I mention that several first-years and trip leaders were not thrilled by the manner of RW Panama’s win and she say, “We did what the challenge asked for, and that’s a simple way to win. In Russian, we have a saying – You don’t judge the winner” (roughly translated to “haters gonna hate”). “Besides, every picture we posted is significant to us because we’ve been through those moments; may not be seen as significant by others. If this bonding inspires some of our group members to go ahead and form their own RW leaders team next year, that’s a job well done.”

Pushya is the People Editor at Chicago Business and tries to deep dive into Booth’s bonding experience stories.