Sunday, August 31, 2008

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

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