Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22: Return Home

We left the hotel at 5:20 a.m. We were being nicer and more considerate of each other. At the airport, Cassidy asked the group to reflect through the arts. We will share drawings at Casady.

I read the books Emily asked to buy on board of plane. The books are very difficult because there is a lot of pain in the post cards. According to the author the release has helped many people. I am emotionally drained by them and I think this needs to be handled in collaboration with Dr. Moore and Father Blizzard. I gave the books to Dr. Moore. Emily needs to talk to Dr. Moore also. As a result of reading the books, I want to be a better listener. Work harder in my personal relationships and make sure no one feels unwanted or isolated around me. Using the analogy given during the conference by Shinnyoen, I want people to be in the green zone and to reduce stress.

Nasville 2009 was a great group. It is ironic but we were kinder and more considerate of each other because of the painful books.

We decided that change is needed to improve our facilitation of information and to make YAC's work become RELEVANT, ENGAGING, AND WITH more CHOICES. A way of introducing information like what in elementary grades is called "an emerging curriculum." If each one of the kids who went to Nashville trains a volunteer youth, I think we are ready to empower change to become peace with insightful, capable and caring people.

I look forward to the reflection drawings and the final reflections, one led by me during the YAC meeting with a small amount of time because Kaija has to update everyone on National Volunteer Week (She does not want chapel presentations then because she wants community organizations where we have worked with pictures in the background of the presentation) She is doing a wonderful job creating a celebratory atmosphere for the week without much funding and great ideas. And the last one in front of Mr. Bright led by Rose.

On Friday, March 27, Rose will reflect us in front of Mr. Bright, Dr. Moore, and Mr. Pena.

Saturday, March 21: Last Day of the Conference

HOPE WALKS: Emily and Rose slept late. Cassidy, Sasha and I participated in the Hope Walk. As we walked to raise awareness of the AIDS Epidemic, I realized how well organized and how simple this walk was. I will suggest the Walk the World leaders this year to follow the format and process given by this walk.

The plenary was amazing. Haru started with a speech about the Paths to Peace. Another speaker of note for me was Richard Love who called to save children from Nature Deficit Disorder, but the greatest highlight was the Drum Cafe. They had 1,000 drums there and they taught us how to beat as one. It was energizing and fun.

The whole group supported Mary Rogers and the Pennsylvania kids. We attended Water Flowing Across the Curriculum. They were very well prepared and made a clear demonstration of curricular connections with this growing global need. Dave Milton had told the kids that his presentation would be boring and not to attend. I attended the Climate Change presentation and it was wonderful. My group would not have had any problem understanding it. Since everyone was tired, they spent time building relationships and resting to be fresh for the Gathering of the Elders. Robert wants to bring that format to school for students to get to know teachers at the retreat and maybe have a special assembly with a gathering of the elders.

Emily reflected us at the Pizza restaurant and then she showed us a brief video of the Post Secrets. After an emotional discussion, we went to bed.

Friday, March 20: Third Day of the Conference

The plenary session was powerful. Dr. James Hildreth talked about the HIV Epidemic and called everyone to action. Ms Elisabeth Hoodles gave a great presentation on the United Kingdom's Service initiatives. Up with People entretained.

I spent the whole day with William at the Project Ignition Summitt. In the afternoon, we went site seeing and we bought the book of Post Secrets

In the morning students went to different workshops. In the afternoon, they went to Paths to Peace and enjoy the presentation,but they also brought a desire to purchase a book they had seen Post Secrets.

In the evening, we went to the project Ignition Party. The girls enjoyed dancing with the kids from Pennsylvania. Robert, William and I met with Dave Milton from Facing the Future. It was very interesting to talk to him. Rose and Emily had foot problems and they took us back to the hotel in a taxi.

William led us in reflection with great ease. He is a very good facilitator too.

Thursday: March 19: Second Day:

The plenary featured Peter Benson from the Search Institute who helped us see how much of an asset builder service-learning is for youth. Paul Houston related his life story as a kid who could not read to a published author. Cassidy was looking forward to Lisa Frank and the change she made in her school through service-learning.

Everyone went to different workshops. Casady and Sasha went to Lisa Frank's Forum, So you Think you want to make Change Then the group went site seeing.

I went with William to Project Ignition presentation because William wanted to explore this project for Casady. He got into this project motivated by the competition of getting free stuff and a free dinner. We heard the stories of the participating high schools in the contest for $10,000.

In the afternoon, I went to Being What You Want, Teaching Who You Are and learned about the reactions of the brain to stress and how to create a more relaxed environment for my students by making sure that we are away from the red zone and into the green zone through breathing. It was an amazing presentation. I bought the book of the presenter, called Being.

After the workshop,Maura, Mary and Nan gave me suggestions about the retreat. They think we are trying to do too much, too quickly and the retreat should be divided into parts for teachers and parts for students. Robert came and gave his perspective and we concluded that Maura should talk to Mr. Bright to add his perspective.

Students went to Star Power, an interactive simulation of the achievement gap.

We went to dinner with the people from Pennsylvania and Robert reflected us. The conversation ended-up in addressing the differences between public and private schools based on the Food they serve. Very interesting.

Wednesday, March 18: Creating a Cadre of Youth Facilitators

March 18: All of us except Robert attended this pre-conference workshop. Robert was with parents visiting Vanderbilt.

The trainers did an excellent job using Power Point with interactive games and activities to teach and get the group involved. There was a lot of pre-preparation.

We were also part of the group's problem solving because they had lost their computer. Also their binders for us did not arrive until the last day.

After getting to know who was in the audience with a game using a ball with questions in it, they asked to compare best and worst workshops and what made them successful. They also asked to tell the difference between presenting and facilitating on big post-it notes with ideas coming from small post-it notes. There were two facilitators per table overseeing the needs of the table. If we plan for 100 people at the gym, we will need 10 tables with 2 facilitators looking at the needs of every table. They had a great number of crayolas, small post-it notes, toys to play for the bodily-kinesthetic, candy to munch and a lot of water to drink.

They taught us that facilitating is as easy as PIE (Preparation, Implementation and Evaluation.)

To grab the attention of the participants, they taught us that facilitation must be REC (Relevant, Engaging,and with Choices) The facilitator should also have in mind to combine feedback, novelty, movement, water, humor, and music.

Then, they helped us find our multiple intelligences. They used a test that did not take in account the foundational intelligence. I should make my own from the one at the Internet. I must remember to ask permission to use it.

To keep people interested in the training, they suggested techniques such as brainstorming, brain writing, card posting, case study, dramatic skit, working in pairs, teaching each other, fishbowl (group on group activity. They used all of them. We found more in the binder. Finally, they taught us about the 4 elements of service learning, the standards of best practices, and reflection interactively. They divided us into groups and gave us scenarios of volunteerism, community service and service-learning.

They used similar technique for the standards of service-learning which have been revised. (Curriculum Integration, Youth Voice, Diversity, Meaningful Service, Duration and Intensity, Cognitively Challenging Reflection, Progress Monitoring, Reciprocal Partnerships

As I reviewed the training the following ideas are emerging for the Fresh Start Retreat, which I think should be handled mostly by Casady YAC and willing facilitators representing the four houses available in August 1.


1. Opening: Getting to know each other: We could use the Shinnyoen's way of self reflecting. Then, have them share with the person next to them to use the engaging part. We must have 10 people taking pictures one at each table and getting the pictures developed inmediatly to add them to the profile.

To use movement, the name tags should have numbers from 1-20. We will go outside, weather permiting or stay inside and create 5 circles with inner and outer circles. Numers 1-10 will be the outer circle and numbers 11-20 will be the inner circle. As they stand, each person will receive a card from the table facilitator. After introductions, the outer circle will stay in place and the inner circle will rotate to the right. Instructions will be given by the table facilitators to avoid shouting. The questions should help participants smile, have happy feelings and find a personal ability. As they come back, we will take a few minutes for people to share.

2. Low Ropes Course and Blind Trust Walk at Camp Fire USA

3. Colors Test or Multiple Intelligences: The person we hire will provide the colors test and facilitators will be able to participate in this too. If we do not have money, we could use the MI Inventory and make beaded bracelet with it. Every person will have a bracelet that reminds them of their strenghts and weakneses.

4. Introduction of Service-Learning: Art Activity PARC Hand: Student Voice (Who?, What?, Where?, When?, Why?, How?)and Roots of Service Tree with positive values and people and/or institutions helping those values. We call our program community service-learning because we ask students to own their projects based on meeting a community need with their interest, talent and academic preparation.


1. Site Visits: Community need assessment. 6 buses, 2 sites per bus with 25 people each: Infants, Toddlers and Children (direct service) (Infant Crisis Services, Boys and Girls Club), Animals (Animal Shelter-Humane Society), Elderly (direct service) (Independent Living Facility-Assisted Living Facility-Nursing Home: Vineyard and Canterbury), City Renewal (Habitat for Humanity-Rebuilding Together) The disable (Special Care-The Medows), Poverty Advocacy (The Food Bank, World Neighbors), Research and advocacy for the Environment (Department of Environmental Education - Recycling Centers)

2. Reports from Site Visits. Decision making: Groups divide in 1/2 to work on sites. Bus transportation provided to and from Casady


1. Service on sites
2. Celebration: Brunch by 9th grade mothers and Gathering of the Elders: 9th grade Advisors and Teachers to speak about their experience when they were between 13-18 years of age and to share advise to make the 9th grade as stress free as possible.
3. Reflection led by YAC Artist: Make a drawing of a lasting memory of the retreat and explain why.

Sasha was the first to reflect the group and she did a wonderful job.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17 and early morning 18: Traveling Log

I am amazed at how fast communication is now between parents and teens as well as teens themselves. Before I thought about asking the question, they already had the answers. At the airport, teens texting and on the phone were as common as breathing. I could not help but think how much mass communication has changed the way we live.

The flights were good and everyone was on time and ready to start the adventure.

At the airport, I brainstormed rules of interaction and asked them to share the speaker they were looking forward to hearing. We will be observing the buddy system, checking in by phone if any changes are made, trying to keep the given schedule. The goal is to keep everyone informed and safe. I also told them that that there is an expectation to be prepared for a chapel talk after we come back and that credit will be given for reflection. Reflection must be done on a daily basis. Our last item of discussion was: Robert is our youth leader and facilitator of the conference, but we will keep him aware of what the group wants to do and everyone can afford. He is the final decision maker, but activities have to have group concensus.

After our arrival to the airport, Robert drove us to the Hard Rock Cafe where William and his parents met us. Everyone seemed to have a good time at dinner.

During our walk to the hotel, we observed Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in a college town.

Robert visited Vanderbilt and William joined us in the pre-conference workshop, Creating a Cadre of Youth Facilitators in the morning.