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BLOG | Kirie’s New York Adventures: Healing Retreat

Kirstyne “Kirie” Lange has been selected as an intern for the Sadie Nash Leadership Project (SNLP) in New York this summer. For the next nine weeks, she will be blogging for The Campanil about her experience.

The first week of Summer Institute went by quickly and it was great to now share the space with the Nashers. A moment dreamed about throughout the three weeks of training and seeing all the Nashers together is a feeling that I have yet to put to words.

Though we planned to have our healing retreat at Princeton, we had to cancel due to flash flood warnings in the area. Fifty girls on a bus in that type of weather would only result in hours of traffic. We had about 40 minutes to re-group as deans and create 2 hours worth of activities for the Nashers for a half a day of programming that ended with an ice cream social.

We started off with a name drop game; divided the group into two and held up a table cloth dividing the two groups. One Nasher from each team was to come to the front of the table cloth and once the cloth was dropped they had to be the first to say the others name. The person who did not win had to join the opposing team. There was a little resistance, but as Nashers got into the game of remembering each others names, it became a ton of fun.

We then split up into 5 groups and had one dean heading the really fun game “Name that Tune.” The facilitator gave us a word and we had to come up with as many songs as possible and prepare to perform the song to the group. Having multiple options was helpful in case one of the other groups used the desired song. This game was a great community activity because everyone got to participate, we had a wide array of songs and held an ultimate round with an objective to get the whole group to participate. This was one of the best large group activities I’ve seen in a while. Everyone was really creative with props, dance moves and of course, the overall performance.

After that, we did an exercise where the young women had to use a collection of random supplies we could find to build a bridge connected by two chairs. It wasn’t the best activity, but it bought us enough time to hold the Nashers off until the ice cream social began.

The next week was a nice break through with my Dean Group as they really started to open up to me and with one another. Our daily go “arounds” (check ins) varied from “your favorite place to shop” to “the most beautiful place you’ve been.” We held a discussion on “describe the thing that bothers you the most in your community,” and most of the girls shared about how they would like to see their communities perceived better.

Like many places, the media hinders the welcoming environment that these places really are and channel them to be perceived as breeding grounds for violence of all sorts. I could feel the connection with them living and going to school in Oakland; every time I tell some one that they always follow up with a quick “oh, do you feel safe there?” It’s one of those conversations I wish I could give everyone the same “every city has its element” speech but I can’t. Neither can the Nashers. But I advised them that they can continue to be outstanding members of their communities and set examples for other youth to hopefully follow in their same footsteps.

The classes in week 2 really provided a space for the young women to really open up. In the media course, we addressed how television influences family structures in comparison to how the young women approach their relationships. It was very interesting to hear what each of the young women’s family dynamics are. The same came up in the Poetry course; the strong use of words as agents of expression created a much more emotional setting. By the end of it, I had to gather myself and deconstruct my mind because I was so overwhelmed by the stories I’ve heard.

With that said, our Healing Retreat to Princeton was amazing. We conducted a “Walk the Line” activity with the Nashers that was very powerful; silence really helped keep the tone and affect of the activity. Once we debriefed and reflected, we took the young women outdoors to do ice breakers and let loose before heading back to Newark.

Week 2 was a week full of layers being peeled and I cannot wait to see and experience the next four weeks!

To keep up with Kirstyne, you can follow her on Twitter @QweenKirie.

Read more of her related posts here.

If you’re a member of the Mills community who’s interested in blogging about your summer adventures, contact for more info.