Yesterday, I read a beautiful story by my friend Alex about the collaborative corporate culture at Turner Construction. I was surprised to learn that, along with teamwork and commitment, integrity is a core value upon which the foundation of Turner Construction was built. After reading an article about his team, I was inspired to write a story about a team that I’m a proud part of: the What’s Cooking team. Alex, Liam and I began working on What’s Cooking soon after returning to Fordham in January 2018 for our second semester. I remember during one of our first weekends working on What’s Cooking, the weather was unseasonably warm, so we decided to walk outside and simply spitball ideas. It was quite the scene. Have you ever tried taking a sip of water from a running hose? That’s what trying to keep track of all our ideas felt like. The ideas kept coming; our collective creative juices were flowing. Everyone had ideas, and almost every one was worth writing down. After some time frantically flipping through a notebook scribbling incoherent sentences, I grabbed a jagged stone off the ground near a park we passed. “This,” I explained while holding the stone, “is a wampanoag.” In grade school, I read about Native American tribes that passed around a stone—called a wampanoag—during official meetings and councils. The speaker holds the stone; all others are silent. This facilitates active listening, but also demands discipline and respect. Listeners must actually hear the speaker; speakers must be willing to pass the wampanoag so that others have a chance to talk; everyone must respect the ritual. Wampanoags are also believed to have recording powers. Whoever leaves with a wampanoag is tasked with remembering what conversations were had while it was being used. The stones themselves are ultimately unimportant; anything can be used as a wampanoag. But the tradition is sacred. The more I reflect on Alex’s story, the more I realize that integrity is integral to the success of What’s Cooking as well. Integrity can refer to morals, but it also means a unified whole. Though Alex, Liam and I are three individuals with unique perspectives, we strive to act as one consciousness committed to achieving a common goal. I’m sure Alex has heard many times that Turner Construction values integrity. Likewise, the three of us have used a wampanoag many times since that night. It’s harder than it seems. But it’s something our team values nonetheless. The practice teaches patience, empathy, and storytelling. These lessons are not learned from any single story; they are instilled over time and require reminders again, and again, and again. Because it’s hard. It’s hard not to cut my brother off when we’re arguing. It’s hard to have a moral compass that never leads astray. It’s hard to understand what empathy and integrity really mean. But these values are so important that they’re worth repeating. *** I will now pass the wampanoag to Liam.