My DI Story: Where Did 13 Years Go?

By: Anisha Cheema

I first discovered Destination Imagination in kindergarten at York House School. As I complete my 13th year in this amazing program, I have taken the opportunity to reflect on my experiences over that time. Meeting new friends, gaining confidence to tackle any problem, and learning that anything is possible have been the highlights of my time in DI.

Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved creating. Whether it was gluing random household items together to make a little “robot” or spending hours taking apart small objects (never to be put back together in quite the same way), I have always been fascinated by things that can be taken apart or can be put together. I was also fascinated by all of the tools in our garage and could not wait to use them for more ambitious projects.

I have always wanted to experience as much as I can in my life. I also wanted to combine a variety of interests in my personal and future professional life. Growing up with Destination Imagination in my life helped me realize that this goal is possible. DI has encouraged and fostered my love of acting, creative thinking and problem solving. I have used all of these skills through school, my personal interests and as I pursue my life’s goal of becoming an actress. With respect to acting in particular, DI has given me the confidence to be myself in front of the camera.

Recently I had the opportunity to appear in the #LikeAGirl social media campaign sponsored by “Always.” The campaign brings attention to the stereotyping that girls face from a young age. This year, the campaign focuses on emojis and how they do not represent women fairly. The campaign also provides a message of empowerment that girls really can do anything. This campaign was even more personal to me since I have always been on an all girls DI team that has always enjoyed taking on the Technical Challenges.

Through Destination Imagination, I have learned the true value of creativity and collaboration. While the approach may be unconventional, I have come to understand that DI’s unique approach to learning and personal growth is what is missing in traditional educational models. Being able to “think outside of the box” is not merely a cliché for DI; it is how we operate on a day-to-day basis.

With the constant and increasingly rapid changes in our world, we need versatile solutions that can easily adapt to those changes. How many of the world’s problems could be solved if the world’s leaders had to complete an Instant Challenge? Or perhaps we could convince them to complete a Project Outreach Challenge to help the world’s homeless.

The most important part of Destination Imagination has been the amazing friendships I have developed. Whether the friendships at school or from around the world, DI has been the glue that attracted and held so many of my friendships together. One of my closest and dearest friends is Julianna. Sharing a five-hour biking tour of Vancouver (a story for another time) to coming up with crazy DI solutions to founding Humans of Vancouver, Julianna has been my DI sister since she joined the school in the eighth grade.

Two years ago, inspired by photojournalist Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York (HoNY) blog, Julianna and I founded Humans of Vancouver. HoNY is dedicated to capturing the real-life stories of those living in that community. Using the DI ideal of inclusiveness, we believe that everybody is worth a story, and everybody has a story that is worth sharing. We are motivated to give a voice to those around us through the Humans of Vancouver Facebook page. While there is much hardship in the world, there are also inspiring stories that are waiting to be told. From the great achievements of Chris Hadfield to the young couple who remained best friends after their break-up, we sought to connect with and inspire those around us.

This spring, as a way of wrapping up 13 years of Destination Imagination, my dad (who has been our Team Manager for all of those years) and I will be driving from Vancouver to Knoxville to attend Global Finals. I think that four days and more than 4,300 miles will be an amazing way to celebrate 13 years of our DI experiences. And at the very least, I know there will not be a shortage of stories to relive during the drive.

What’s your DI story? Email us at [email protected] or comment below.