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After the Retreat – A Time to Reflect

Members of the San Francisco Youth Association (YA) attended the second series of the Infinite Paths to Peace Leadership Retreat at EarthRise Center in Petaluma, CA, in late June. Close to 40 Junior YA and YA members participated along with a few lineage parents from the Head Temple. The following are two reflections written by Hana, a Junior YA, and Ted, a YA member on their experiences at the retreat.

Hana (JRYA)

The Infinite Paths to Peace Leadership Retreat was the absolute definition of amazing. I am so grateful that I was fortunate enough to attend the second IPTP Leadership Retreat. I was second-guessing about attending the first retreat. When I heard the word “essay” to write afterwards, I quickly turned down the opportunity. I was really shy at the time so I didn’t think twice about my decision. When I got there this time, I was so surprised. Everyone was so open, comforting, and made me feel like I belonged there. I felt so lucky to have all these amazing people by my side. Since I was born into the Shinnyo-en teaching, I guess I took it for granted. I never questioned anything and I felt like I never had that one “Eureka moment” that everyone talked about. I just went to the temple every weekend. At the retreat, I got to meet people with the same stories. We shared, discussed, and finally realized we weren’t that different. There were no frowns, no negativity, and most of all no judgment. Judgment was one of the main things that I struggled with while growing up. At the IPTP Leadership Retreat, I could tell these people anything and they would comfort me or even understand what I was going through. The IPTP Leadership Retreat was a judgment-free zone.

Since I was one of the youngest members of the group, I felt like certain people wouldn’t want to talk to me because they thought I was immature. That wasn’t the case. People I had never seen before came to talk to me at the most random times. I was able to meet new people and make friends. I felt like we all bonded through the ice-breakers and activities. My favorite part of all of this was the discussions. While discussing, I was able to break out of my comfort zone and comfort others so that they felt  like they could do the same. There was a time at lunch where we were encouraged to sit with different people. I chose to keep it safe and sit with a friend, but then I saw two others come to sit down with us. I thought, “Why are they sitting here? Are they sitting with us because they think we’ll just stay quiet? Do they think we look approachable?” So many things were wrapped around my head when they sat down in the chairs next to us. And then out of nowhere, they started to talk to us. We had a very deep conversation at that moment. The whole retreat just left me in awe. I couldn’t wait to get back to the temple, take what I’ve learned from the retreat, and apply it to my life at the temple as well as out in the broader community. I’m so glad that I went to this retreat and I can’t wait for the third series. Namu Shinnyo!

 

Ted (YA)

When the opportunity to attend the retreat came, I was not sure what this “retreat” was about. Without knowing, I joined to experience something new because I wanted to meet new people. I have changed much since the last time I did something like this and wanted to work on my skills of interacting with people. I was able to see my growth over the four years of high school and all the opportunities I received from the Shinnyo-en Foundation. The retreat showed me new ideas and different perspectives on leading and how to change certain aspects of society. I learned much more than I thought I would and this opportunity showed me that I have much more to learn about leadership.However, this retreat was in a way very similar to the other events I have been to with Shinnyo-en Foundation. The only difference was that it took place in a very good location. A location in nature made the experience much more comforting and relaxing.

It took a couple of days out of my busy life and was able to calm me down. It was an outstanding experience I have not been able to get in a couple years.

 

 

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The next Infinite Paths to Peace Leadership Retreat Series 2 will be held at Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center for the Shinnyo-en LA Temple youth from Sept. 27th to 29th. Stay tuned to hear from the LA youth participants in a couple of months!

To see more photos from the IPTP Leadership Retreat Series 2 for the Head Temple youth, please click this link.