I, We, Society

I, We, Society

Blog Post 34 - Photo 1

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, I spent two days at LUREC on an incredibly thought-provoking and emotionally intense retreat, which I now consider to be one of my most memorable experiences at Loyola—The People’s Institute (TPI).

The People’s Institute Retreat is sponsored by Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Student Leadership Development and is described as “an experience designed to explore and reflect upon the interconnection between leadership and social justice, while empowering students to partake in individual identity work through understanding privilege and the responsibility to create social change.”

As a political science and computer science double major, I aspire to help find new ways to utilize big data as a tool for promoting positive social change at scale, and to use internet technology as a conduit for creating equity through ubiquitous access to information and services. Last semester, I decided to apply to TPI, not only for the opportunity to explore my self-identity and advance my own leadership abilities, but, even more so, for a chance to discover diverse ways to apply these skills in order to increase social awareness and engagement in causes I believe in. Appreciatively, I became one of the lucky forty or so students selected to attend Loyola Chicago’s fourth annual TPI.

We spent both days working with Felicia Lee and Jonathan Poullard, who specialize in leadership development, team building, and diversity initiatives.  Felicia is the Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff at UC Berkeley, and Jonathan was the previous Dean of Students at Berkeley. By the end of the first day, we all knew that we would love working with this dynamic pair of facilitators.

The first day’s theme was “I – Consciousness of Self,” while the second day focused on “We – Allies and Identity Group Memberships.” All the activities were designed to ‘push’ us to “be vulnerable” in order to better understand ourselves, and each other, as individuals. Doing this allowed us to become more aware of different social subgroups while at the same time becoming better active allies of oppressed identity groups. One of my favorite activities was watching Novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, a lighthearted take on the negative potential of stereotypes.

For me, the TPI retreat will be remembered as an extraordinarily unique and powerful experience. It was a lot to take in, in only one brief weekend, but I definitely encourage all those who have even the slightest interest in leadership and social justice to apply in the fall for next year’s TPI.


Image from: http://www.kean.edu/sites/default/files/images/CLS-socialchange.png

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