I came to Friends General Conference 2016 Gathering at the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota entering a completely new role at Gathering that I have never experienced before. This seems abnormal considering the vast number of roles and work I’ve taken on at Gathering. From marching on Wendy’s in Colorado, to Junior Gathering Staff helping lead a class of 4th and 5th graders.
I originally planned on being on Junior Gathering Staff the 2nd year in a row when I suddenly received a message on Facebook by Deanna Boyd, one of the High School Gathering Coordinators. I was a participant in the program for 2 straight years from 2013-2014 and I loved my experience more than anything in the world. I went hoping to give the current participants that same experience that I once had. What I ended up getting was more rewarding to me than any experience I’ve ever had at gathering. Despite the controversy of campus police giving people of color at the Gathering a “helicopter” feeling, and the tragedies of the violence spreading across America, we discovered that it was these hardships that brought us to clarity.
During the week I had trouble determining my worth in the world given my color, but my support group and the other counselors helped me remember not only how valuable I am to them, but how valuable they are to me. If I spoke in detail of every great experience in that one week, I’d be speaking for a year.
One year ago in North Carolina at the 2015 Gathering, at times I felt as though I was making no great contribution to the Gathering. I felt as though my experience lacked the same magic it had when I was in high school, and I wondered if I would ever recapture that.
As it turned out, I got much more of it back than I’ve ever felt. I plan on being a High School Gathering counselor for as long as I can be. To not only continue to inspire them, but to let them inspire me.
In the light,
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