Friendships are like Origami

While most of our Saturday nights in Tangier were spent out on the town, that Saturday was different – better, even. I’d been working at the American School in Tangier, developing science experiments for elementary school kids. That Monday, I was teaching fourth graders about stability and its opposite. My idea was to demonstrate these principles with paper airplanes, showing how instability makes them crash.

I learned how to make an origami paper crane in fifth grade, and ever since, I’ve challenged myself to fold them smaller and smaller. You might say paper folding is in my blood.

To help me out, some of my UNE friends offered to build the planes and test if fourth graders could handle all the designs.

We set up in the cafeteria. Ryan grabbed the most difficult plane — a replica of a real jet with an elevated tailpiece. Tony picked the next hardest, then David the third. That left me with the easiest design.

As I folded mine, I realized Ryan and David were struggling with their twelve-step instructions. I paused to help them out. Tony finished first and began zipping his plane around the room. David wasn’t far behind, and soon they were competing to see whose plane was better. While they dueled, Alli walked into the café and joined in the fun.

Ryan and I were really stuck. We made it to step six, but couldn’t figure out the transition to seven. “How are the wings supposed to disappear and then reappear?” he asked.

“No clue,” I admitted.

This went on for fifteen minutes, until Ryan finally cracked step seven. “Yes!” I shouted. Alli, Tony, and David crowded around us, eager for the final result.

Another ten minutes of wrestling with steps eight through twelve followed. Finally, Ryan held the plane, ready for takeoff. We all counted down: three, two, one – please let this thing fly, I thought. He released it, and it soared… only to crash three feet away.

“Nooooooo,” we all moaned.

“It’s fine, we can fix it,” David said, scooping up the plane and joining Ryan at the table.

The room went silent except for the soft rustle of paper. Minutes later, I looked up to see their plane soaring effortlessly, like a miniature Dreamliner.

Who knew paper airplanes could bring so many people together? Friendships are like origami — they take work, get confusing sometimes, but the end result can be spectacular.

Molly Cadogan is a Health, Wellness and Occupational Studies major at the University of New England.

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