Nov Retreat- Thoughts and Reflection

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First let me just say how blown away I am by this whole retreat, and really this whole program. When I got a call from my principal asking if I wanted to do this, I thought it was a little after school program that went on a few weeks. Little did I know that is would become one of the largest and most educational programs I have ever done. As a kid in a Vermont middle school, I do not get very much freedom, and we get very concise directions that need exact answers. This retreat has opened my eyes to how free and how different learning can be, and how mature and interested other learners can be.

This retreat has made me rethink the whole education system, and I think if kids were more trusted, then so much more learning could be done. I think that the only thing holding us back are the immature kids that only goof off, and think that not following teachers directions is funny, and I find that really sad. This retreat was all about independence and trusting these kids, and I would like to say that this has been the most amazing educational experience I have ever had.

When I arrived kids had already started their presentations, and I have to say, they went just as I had expected. The quality of presentation was just as I thought it would be (very amazing, by the way), and after some quick edits I thought my presentation when pretty well. They gave me a lot to think about, and there were some topics that really interested me, but I still thought I wanted to stick with mine. We finished presenting all afternoon, and we were all pretty tired out, so we split into rooms. I got a room with Nathan, Theo, and Rex, which we had some great talks. I had a lot of fun with that room.

After some miscellaneous activities and dinner, we went back to the barn to split into groups. Now I have to confess, this went a million times better than I expected, and I think it is because of middle school. As a student, I am surrounded by immature boys that don’t get their work done, disrupt the class, and do anything to disturb directions. Last night I expected us to talk and talk, and for people to not be sure and to switch groups, and all of a sudden immigration was going off, then immigration was splitting into migrant workers and ELL in schools, and all of a sudden I had my group. Migrant workers on dairy farms. I was overjoyed. I loved my topic, I had some great kids in it, and I really liked the instructor that was with us. It was better than I had ever expected. After some deep talking, and some people who were not sure, we came back and officially wrote down our names. Nigel, Elsa, Brennan, and Justin, with the mentor Brad. I was so happy.

As nerds that had just done a huge day of thinking and working, we decided to stay up late, get drunk on soda, and play an intense game of Anomia (Thank you Mom!). We were all tired, and it felt good to sit down and have so much fun playing a nerdy game where no one was trying. I was surrounded by mature high schoolers, and it reminded me of staying up late with my cousins in Maine, playing card games and laughing. I had more fun that night then I had in a long time.

After a deep sleep where I almost fell out of bed, we re-convened in the morning to talk more to our groups, and get a better understanding of where everyone was in terms of groupings. Our whole group was fine, and happy to stick with us. After getting a task sheet to help plan out our next month as a group, and a long-winded conversation on wood stoves, we decided on meetings every Friday at 4:30, by google hangout. Then we would have a conversation on a pre-planned question, after answering each question individually by blog post. We would then rotate on who would write another blog post summing up our conversation. The questions and order goes:

  1. What are the conflicts / different perspectives at play in the story?
  2. What are the details of the story we are pursuing?
  3. What are the questions we have now about our topic / issue?
  4. Who are the characters it would be wisest for us to contact and interview after our December 3rd retreat?

We also wrote up a calendar, which goes:

November 11 Google hangout #1

What are the conflicts / different perspectives at play in the story?

November 18 Google hangout #2

What are the details of the story we are pursuing?

November 25 Google hangout #3

What are the questions we have now about our topic / issue?

December 2 Google hangout #4

Who are the characters it would be wisest for us to contact and interview after our December 3rd retreat?

December 3-4 2nd Retreat

Generate interview ideas

December 10 Possible meeting with Mexico’s Ambassador

I am very happy with this, and I think we accomplished exactly what we wanted to. We tested google hangouts, and with permission from the CAVE we can hopefully do this every week leading up to next month’s retreat.

All in all, this retreat has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I made new friends, learned a lot, and most importantly, ate amazing food. I am so happy with my group, and I am very excited on what we will hopefully achieve with this topic. We have not fully decided on an end product, but it will most likely end up being a documentary, plus possible a physical service for undocumented workers. I know I did not say much about my actually topic, but that is for the next 4 blog posts. I really enjoyed this retreat, and I cannot wait until the next one.

Nigel Wormser

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