Sunday, August 31, 2008

A look back to the retreat: August 9th

6:30-7:30: Maura Wolfe volunteered to have a yoga and meditation 101 class. I could not have been introduced to Yoga by a better person. I am going to buy the WII fit because it is the only computer product that will somewhat come close to what I experienced with Maura. I also found out she would be heading the team going to Oklahoma City and my initial feeling of dissapointment because neither Haru nor Liane can come was replaced by a feeling of enthusiasm for Maura and her possibilities. Here is a little bit about Maura " MAURA WOLF (USA) — A consultant to the Shinnyo-en Foundation, Maura has been involved in founding and launching non-profit ventures and assisting individuals and organizations to become more effective through coaching and leadership training for the past fifteen years. She has assisted in the design of training for City Year, Citizen Schools, JumpStart, Youth on Board, The Bonner Foundation, and COOL. She is the founder of Boston Do Something, the YES Ambassador program of the Points of Light Foundation, and Virginia COOL, all campaigns to engage young people in community action and develop their leadership capacities in the process. She is author of two books, Light One Candle: Quotes for Hope and Action and Exploring Realities: Stories of Young Women Making Decisions and Finding Meaning. A Kripalu-trained yoga instructor, and a 360-report writer for Fortune 500 Executives, as a staff member with the Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence, she has put a lot of attention on integrating her mind, heart and body. Recently she completed her MA in Leadership at Saint Mary’s College. She does individual and group coaching through MindWing, is married and the mother of a one-year-old son."
7:30-8:30: Wonderful breakfast with many choices

8:30-8:45 Mrs. Kaye woke up the body with an interesting sequence of bodily-kinesthetic movement and yoga. I must remember to write her and request her process and sequence because as a result, we were transform from a diverse group to a team willing to face the days challenges and opportunties together. We were given the guidelines for the Labyrinth activity and instructions to sign-up for special interest afternoon activities. I wanted badly to go on a ocean reflective walk, but it was still too cold and decided to go to Team which changed into ice cream with Haru. Although the weather improved, I do not regret my decision because I learned a lot even how to find out a little bit about people by what topping the put on their ice cream. I must write the foundation to get the source of their information because it was cute and I have ice cream socials at the beginning of the school year as part of the service-learning office Open House.

8:45-9:45: Intergenerational Dialog on Concern of Youth People. This presentation reafirmed the strenght of intergenerational work. The activity was organized by Katie Pinard of Seattle University 206-296-2328 In a circle, we were read parts of a Letter to a young activist during troubled times by younger participants.
Do not lose heart,. We are made for these times...Ours is a time of almost daily jaw-dropping astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradatons of what matters most to civilized, visionary people... The letter was written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. About 8 younger participants read parts of the letter and then they became the leaders of a discussion group with a task..

We were asked to complete the below sentences individually and then do the task together
1. One concern I have about the world is ...For me it was hunger
2. One thing I want the next generation to know about my generation is.. We cared
3. A gift I would like to give the next generation is...children will on learned about hunger in history books

Then we had to complete the following task as a group and choose the wisest person to speak for the group. We chose our young leader to be our representative:
Write a letter that will be placed in a time capsule and opened in 100 years, in 2018. In your leatter share your wishes and hopes for future generations living on Earth. Tell them what gifts you would like to give to them. Tell them anything else you would like them to know. It was an amazing opportunity to see how different the letters were. Some were personalized others were deep, but all shared hope that the human race would have survived and were peaceful. I am going to be presenting at a Volunteers conference in September. After giving a brochure and letting my students have an opportunity to tell their story, I will do this exercise. It was amazingly powerful and speaks to the subject with greater eloquence because it touches our hearts.

9:15-10:00 We had a break

10:00-11:45 We had our third Home Group meeting. Our task was to share a momemt when service was received and specially valued. Then share a moment when service was provided and felt specially important; and finally reflect on the meaning and power of service. The group had heartfelt moments. I found myself talking about my English teacher at Casady School when I was an exchange students and my trip to Peru to build a playground for children; others talked about similar services in their lives. We realized that we had learned by giving and receiving and our lives had been transformed by service.

12:00 -1:00 Lunch I met the writer who will be documenting our retreat experience to honor the 10th anniversary. I was interviewed and eat wonderful food.

1:00 -5:00 I chose to do a t-shirt. The activity was facilitated by Jody Kennedy. My t-shirt was not great buy the younger participants made a "We are made for these times" t-shirts that were amazing. I signed up for this workshop because it was cold and it allowed me to be inside and attend tea/ice cream time with Haru. I learned about special paints and a system to spray decorations on t-shirts using stencils. My students love to have personalized t-shirts and this will give us an opportunity to do something different at low cost for our projects such as the hunger walk. Ice-Cream with Haru was interesting. I learned about the difference between the foundation and the Shinnyoen order. I learned that people who like cherries as a topping of ice cream are detailed oriented and people who put nuts on their ice cream are the life of the party. I am not sure how scientific this is, I will find out the sources, but it was a nice way to begin the meeting. It was a nice ice breaker. Then we proceeded to true or false statements about Haru. A nice way to get to know him without him saying much. I was glad I went. After the meeting I had a few seconds with Haru and he told me that he would help me get where I wanted to go no matter how long it took. I told him that my hope was a world free of hunger for food and for justice. He said some things we might not get to see in our life time, but we need to work for them anyway.

3:30-7:30 Refreshments and anniversary dinner. At 5:30 I attended an introduction to meditation. It was interesting, but not as impacting at Yoga had been in the morning. My path crossed Maura's path again and I was reassured that the time in OKC was going to be great. We made an appointment to meet the whole team at lunch the next day to finalize details and for them to ask questions about my reality.

7:45-9:00 Labyrinth Activity: The amazing labyrinth rug awaited for participants. Our instructions were that this was not a maze, we would end at the beginning and we did not need to worry about where we were going, just to focus on something personal. I saw people praying, crying, deep in reflection. I felt out of place because the walk was not doing much for me, when all of the sudden I started to pray in Spanish and I took this as a permission to explore my religion again. I was very excited but I am still to do it. Part of our directions were to stay and observed others. I focused on observing two women whose service programs I admire, Nan and Kathryn Berger Kaye. I saw them across from me moving at the same pace in reflection. I could only think about how far they were from were I was, but that the foundation was our connecting path. I felt that someday I could be in syncronicity with them too.

9:15-11:00 Open Mike- I was to tired. I went to bed exhausted before the labyrinth activity ended.

August 31, 2008: A look back at the retreat

August 8: As we arrived to the Marconi Center, I was amazed by its beauty and peace. It was a cold day and I realized I had not brought appropiate clothing. The expected cameras and kind welcome greeted us. My roon was great and I wish my husband were here to share what I knew it was going to be an unforgetable experience. It was a special retreat, their 10th anniversary and the title had expanded from Exploring the Spiritual, Religious, and Cultural Roots of Service Retreat" to Building Community Through Intergenerational Experiences: Sharing Moments of Meaning. It was a long title, but the activities did it justice.

Environment: Buck Hall: Circular seating with resources at the entrance and book lists, schedules and home groups in foundation folders awaited the group of 72 participants who were going to be together for 3 days between. Our pictures were taken and we were given time to explore the grounds. I was asked to do a camera interview and I avoided it until the last day of the retreat. I do not why, I just do not like that. Somewhat I thought could avoid it, but I should have known better.

1-3 Registration: I was assigned to group 5: adult and youth facilitators: Leif Erickson and Arturo Garcia. Members of the Troup: Erica Wickham, Aaron Nakai, Elliot Hondo, Torie Pinto, Kathleen Rice. We shared moments of meaning!!!
3:00-3:45: Official Opening: We were given and overview of the retreat's vision and structure and a slide presentation to honor their 10th year anniversary. There were problems with the slide show, but they did not panic. They allowed us to enjoy their experiences as the technology people made programs work. After affirming commitment to respect, caring and cooperation retreat values and behavior norms, we had a break before we started to form our retreat community meeting with our "Home Group"
4:00 - 5:15: Probably one of the best ways to get to know each other I have experienced. We were asked to bring an object that had special meaning to us to share with our group. People in my group brought pictures, a piece of weath, and I brought my "perfect stone" found as I helped build the children's playground in Ollantaytambo. At first I thought, it will be a regular show and tell; well, it was not!!! The process was interesting because it built interpersonal relationships
1. We introduce each other.
2. The object was pass around and people touched it and if they were willing to say something about that object, they did so; if not they just left of few second of them in the object.
3. As the object returned to the owner; in my personal experience, I could feel the energy given by the members of my group and how they related to my stone and what they said it reminded them or they wondered about. It was easy to share the story and find even deeper meanings than I expected as I spoke. It truely was a moment of meaning.

5:05-5:50: Time to complete check in. The rooms were as peaceful as the rest of the Marconi Center. No TV's, great views

6:00-7:15: Dinner: The food was GREAT, healthy, beautifully served, and tasty.
7:30-8:30: Age Group Cohort meetings. We were divided in Groups by ages (15-18, 19-22, 23-26, 27-35,36-45,56-80. We went to our rooms and discussed moments of meaning from our personal histories instead of Moments of meaning from our common History. Our backgrounds were diverse and someone asked to focus on areas of special interest to connect with the resources of the group. The stories shared were powerful, if fact one person shared something so personal and painful, I could not believe we just had met him.
8:45-9:30: We went back to our home groups and shared our reflections of what was discussed in the Age Cohort groups. I was surprised by the common treads in all the groups and the spirit of change and hope coming from the younger groups.
9:30-11:00 Optional activities: Night Hike, Capture the Flag. I regret not to have taken the night hike, but I was too tired and cold. My first afternoon with the Shinnyo-En foundation had given me so many resources to use with my students upon my return and this was just the beginning.

Books to Rememberfor the Pinwheels for Peace project: Native American Mandalas, People who change the world, A little Peace, Paths to Peace,My mother the Cheerleader for Respect Diversity Projects. A busy family guide to volunteering

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

As I boarded the plane to San Franciso on August 7th, I had a newspaper article about 8.8.08 as the good luck symbol for the Chinese culture.

8.8.08 was going to be the day of the Opening of the Olympics and the day my direct contact with the Shinnyo-En foundation was going to start. I expected to have a big TV set to watch the Opening somewhere at the Marconi Center. There was one available, but I was so involved in what I did that I forgot about the Olympics Opening. I heard it was fantastic, but I still have not had time to see it.

The flight was on time and when I arrived to the Ramada Inn, Henry Lozano had left a message that he was going to be picking me up together with Jody Kennedy. When I talked to Liane she told me that Henrie knew me which at the end we found out could have been possible, but not at a previous retreat as he thought because this was my first.
Here is a little about Henry: "Henry C. Lozano was named Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of USA Freedom Corps on September 11, 2007. As Director of USA Freedom Corps, Mr. Lozano is charged with implementing President Bush's vision for volunteerism and service in America. Echoing the President's Call to Service, which launched the initiative in his 2002 State of the Union, Mr. Lozano is working to promote and expand opportunities for Americans looking to service causes greater than themselves." Henry started his work with the foundation that weekend. I do not remember his exact title, but he will do PR for the foundation for sure.

Henry Lozano picked Jody Kennedy and I from our hotels and drove us to the Marconi Center in the Foundation's car. As we drove to the Marconi Center he mentioned he always thanked his parents in his speeches and I realized he had been an award receipient at the NYLC Conference and that is where I had first heard of him. Once I knew my transportation was in place, I went walking around town. I found South San Francisco almost familiar. There were many Spanish connections. I even found a Peruvian restaurant. My only expectation of the retreat was that it was going to bring me peace, and I was not dissapointed.

Henry is a gentelman from the past. On the way, he fed us lunch and we met Nan from Blake School. Was this meant to be? It was amazing that by chance I was meeting people whose work I admired and people who I hope will consider mentoring the Casady program and me to improve both.

As I talked to Jody, I realized she had been in my life since Liane's presentation the first time I met the Shinnyo-En foundation at the NAIS Conference in Boston. One of the areas I need great help in in teleconferencing and she is an expert in this area. Was this a lucky day or what?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Shinnyoen Foundation Retreat

I will be attending the Six Billion Paths to Peace Retreat at the Marconi Center in Marshall, California. I do not know what to expect, but I know it will be good. Listen to a song about the paths to peace at