Science - August 24, 2005

Getting to know Wageningen: Pass it on!

Eleven people and twelve empty beer crates. Jumping from crate to crate, two groups compete with each other for reaching the finish line first. The spare crate has to be passed over their heads from the back of the line to the beginning, so that the participants can make their way to the finish. This is the crate-game, and it’s all about cooperation.

The game has been set out as part of the KMT – an abbreviation of the Dutch word ‘Kennismakingstocht’, meaning getting-to-know-tour – one of the first activities planned for MSc students during the introduction days. The crate-game takes place on a small field next to the Wallenpad in the centre of town. For a while now, group 49 has been waiting patiently for a team to play against at the starting point. As another MSc group walks by, an AID-crew member runs after them. ‘Our group decided not to do the tour, but just to walk around on their own,’ the mum of group 47 explains. However, the crew member easily convinces the group to take part.

Once the two competing groups get off to a start, the mentors of group 47 seem to know what they are supposed to be doing. Staggering on the crates, they are shouting technical advice to the front. ‘Leave more space between the crates, we have long legs!’ The group members themselves pick up quickly on the idea and shout words of encouragement: ‘Come on team! Pass it on!’

Soon everybody is working together well and the finish line is getting closer. Then the referee notices two crates being passed to the front at the same time. ‘Not allowed! Everybody has to stand on his own crate,’ she says when she sees that two players of group 47 are sharing a crate. Group 49, are already shouting indignantly, ‘Cheats!’ For a while there is some confusion among the members of 47. Quickly enough though they start reorganising. Asian girls in the middle of the line start clapping and spurring the group on. ‘We can still do it! Walk on team!’ And again they move forward, leaving group 49 behind. Across the finish line first, they seem quite happy for a group who at first didn’t want to play. ‘We are the champions!’ they shout loudly. / LH

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