I honestly feel like a changed person after the Urban Retreat. I miss my council, coordinators, and new friends. It was the best trip of the year.
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Sonya Renee speak at the final dinner. Through spoken word her message was empowering and was beautiful. I fought tears and chills in every poem or stop. One day I hope to find my inner courage to be able to get my message of gender equality, comprehensive sex education, and personal stories across as elegantly as she did.
Another thing I loved was the people. Everyone was extremely accepting, warm, beautiful, and heartfelt. During the talent shows many performed amazingly with vulnerability and passion. In sessions, people made sure I was comfortable and accepted. Never have I been to a place where I felt so open to be me.
Finally, lobby day was a surprising success. Believe me, I was hella nervous, but through workshops, encouragement and wonderful coordinators and fellow council members, I, and everyone else, was able to step up to the plate and speak out in support of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act.
I LOVED the privilege circle (despite the fact that it was cut short). I felt moved by the honesty and vulnerability from everyone who participated. I was able to fully comprehend my own privilege as a white male, but also my disadvantage as a gay youth who grew up in a single-parent home in a rural community. I felt close to my peers and would LOVE to do this with SWARM USC!
Overall I thought it was an amazing experience. When I left DC I didn’t want to come back to Columbia and the ordinary it serves. I will miss the sea of people, the sea of acceptance, and the sea of hope.