Contributed by Ryan Fukuhara, Los Angeles Youth Association (YA)
Since 2017, Shinnyo-en Foundation has been developing and delivering a series of Infinite Paths to Peace Leadership (IPTP) Retreats as a sponsored youth leadership program for Shinnyo-en youth, in partnership with Search Institute in Minneapolis, MN. The sixth and last retreat of the first series was completed in March in Hawaii, as Yumena Kawasaki, a Hawaii YA member, wrote in her reflection. The second series has delivered to the New York Shinnyo-en youth in April and also to the San Francisco Bay Area Shinnyo-en youth in June this year. The article that Claire contributed can be found here for the NY IPTP Leadership Retreat and the article that Hana and Ted contributed can be found here for the Head Temple IPTP Leadership Retreat. Shinnyo-en Foundation will continue offering the series of IPTP Leadership Retreats throughout 2020 and at least for the first half of 2021 until the third and last series is completed.
As can be found in other retreat articles, Ryan was not the only one who was apprehensive about attending the IPTP Leadership Retreat. Shinnyo-en Foundation chose to use the term, “retreats” for the series of IPTP leadership development programs because the youth leaders who were involved with the conceptualization and designing of the programs wanted the Foundation to offer programs similar to the Foundation’s Annual Retreats. The Annual Retreats have been offered to the Foundation’s grantees and affiliates since 1999. It is one of the Foundation’s longest and successful sponsored programs, in which the participants engage in personal reflections and meaningful conversations about their passions for peace through service.
Despite the initial reluctance about attending the retreat, Ryan jumped in and assumed a Home Group facilitator’s role at the IPTP Leadership Retreat Series 2 for the Los Angeles YA. Please read on Ryan’s reflection in which he openly shares what he gained from the last retreat.
“Although I was a bit hesitant at first because I had no idea what it was about, I actually ended up really enjoying the IPTP retreat. I was incredibly nervous about going to the retreat at first because I had never been to one of these retreats before. I was not sure what to expect and didn’t know what it would be like. I was especially nervous because I was chosen to be one of the Home Group facilitators. I have never really seen myself as a leader type so I was not sure if I was fit for the role. I was very nervous because I thought that I would not be able to do a good job. However, everyone there was really supportive and willing to help me when I needed it. I learned more about leadership and how it was not always about taking charge. It is also to make sure everyone else gets a chance to talk and share their ideas. I had the opportunity to reflect on and talk about a time when the Shinnyo-en teaching helped me during a difficult time in my life and just how much I am being helped. I also had a chance to interact with and get to know some of my fellow LA YA members better.
I did not realize it at the time but I feel like I also gained more confidence and found myself to be more open to socializing. Before the retreat, I preferred to just go about my day without talking to others much when I didn’t need to, but after the retreat I felt a new feeling of wanting to interact more with others. On Monday after the retreat, I actually was given an opportunity to use some of the leadership skills I learned over the weekend. During my first class day, we were discussing what someone would need to have a positive attitude. I was working with two other people in my class and no one was really saying anything. So, I took the initiative and said “So, what do you guys think?” and I made sure everyone shared their ideas before I shared my own. I was really surprised that I did this as I am not usually the one to speak up first. Overall I had a great experience at the retreat and would definitely go again.”
Please find more photos of the IPTP Leadership Retreat 2 in Los Angeles here.
As Shinnyo-en Foundation continues hosting the rest of IPTP Leadership Retreat Series 2 in 2020 and begin delivering the Retreat Series 3, please look out for the articles that the participants share their reflections.