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Retreat

This semester, for me, has been plagued with the realization that in just one year, I’ll be graduating from Fontbonne. Now, all students have known that their graduation is 4 years, 3 years, 2 years, right around the corner; however, I have only seen the monolithic decisions that I’ll have to face upon receiving that degree. I’m bringing this up now as I’ve just returned and reflected off of a retreat that was sorely needed. The Rest and Renewal Retreat gave me a brief 24 hrs to stop, relax, and focus on the things that I want to have in my lifelong journey and those things that hitch a ride unwarranted. I was given a chance to see the many faults I have in being true to my: integrity, drive, and faith.

My integrity to do things like attending school events or talking to a friend about possible future plans to hangout. I seem to not be doing things that I have a genuine desire to do, I just do them because I’m asked or feel obligated when I’m not really interested. Growing up, I was told by my parents that I wasn’t capable to play soccer or learn an instrument. Believing this, I followed suit and just stopped asking and let others run my life. I’d been conditioned to listen, not to carry the conversation forward. I tried to fill in the gaps by doing what others wanted, not myself. This retreat made me realize how much I’ve been missing out on in my own life. I’m beginning to take charge and stepped down from positions and posts assigned to me, not ones I’ve chosen.

My drive has always been in question as if it was really mine or just a call to serve my friends. Recently, I’ve seen how attending many events on campus are only alternative means of interaction, in place of just going out for lunch or sitting in the AMC to talk. These events that I once thought to allow deep relationships to form only allow for the superficiality to come in crystal clear. People I once thought of as my best friends rarely speak, telling me it was much more on the surface. This retreat made me see that I desire to be in those smaller, intimate moments of conversation instead of these empty shell congregations.

My faith has been growing over the past year. Attending and helping plan retreats, mass, and choir have given a sense of loving friendship and community that the whole of Fontbonne are unaware of. Our school prides itself on the community that forms between students, but it rarely forms a as a result of the exclusivity that permeates many of our student orgs. Campus ministry is different in that its personal and beautiful. This recent retreats was needed to show me that my faith in community was simply in the wrong place. It was with acquaintances and not friends.

This retreat gave a system shock. I saw the misattribution of what I want in life, who I want in life, and who I want to lead my life. I hope to use these internal guideline to put forward a senior year that is more true to myself and not to others.

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I know summer just started, but I am really excited about the upcoming school year! I just got back from the very successful FAB (Fontbonne Activities Board) retreat, in which the officers did some event planning for next school year. I won’t give away too much, but let’s just say we’ve got some AMAZING events in store for our fellow students.

The retreat was spent at the lovely Lake of the Ozarks with six student leaders and one advisor. It was a rough start on the way there. On Monday, we ran into huge thunder and wind storms. What usually would have been a three hour drive turned into five and a half! Luckily, this nasty weather did not foreshadow or dampen the rest of the trip. Tuesday was primarily spent doing business work (i.e. event planning and leadership skills development). We did take a break to go shopping at the outlet mall and play games later in the night. Wednesday morning more business was accomplished, and then it was already time to leave. We all had a great time together. Of course, this retreat was a great way to discover our strengths as leaders and learn how to utilize those skills. But, it was so much more than that. It was a great opportunity to get to know my fellow officers better. Hanging out in the nice condo, cooking dinner, talking on the deck, and feeding ducks in the lake are just a few of the great bonding experiences we got to share together.

On the way back to St. Louis, I reflected on how grateful I am to be at Fontbonne. This school has provided so many amazing opportunities and relationships that I will never forget. I am enthusiastic and proud to get involved in so many organizations on campus. Like I said before, I am already excited for the upcoming school year. However, I don’t want to rush the spectacular summer break that I have ahead of me. There are still so many adventures to embark on!

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This semester, there is a new program called Emerging Leadership Program which every Fontbonne student can apply to. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to join this program and attend the retreat last weekend.

This retreat was held on the Toddhall retreat center in Columbia, IL. And every member of the leadership program was required to join. Therefore, we rented the van and carpooled from Fontbonne to the retreat center. Everyone was so excited because it was a retreat trip.

Before going to retreat, we had to do the strengths assessment through an on-line website called StrengthsQuest which is a very useful assessment to let you you’re your TOP5 strengths and to develop your strengths in academic, career, etc. We shared our TOP5 strengths during the retreat, also Janelle and Oscar gave some workshops about how could we use our strengths in our daily life.

After doing the assessment on-line, we had to share our Top 5 strengths with each other. I was so surprised everyone has very different strengths. We are so unique and valuable. For example, my top 5 strengths are “Positivity. Achiever. Maximizer. Responsibility. Arranger.” It was really useful and interesting. However, no one else had positivity for their strength. Some people had Communication, Discipline, Strategic, or Command in their Top 5 strengths. After sharing our strengths, we did a lot of workshops to learn how to use our strength well to contribute to our environment, and even the whole world.

In addition to doing some workshops, we also did something to be in nature! The weather was so nice last weekend, so we went hiking on the trail, and shared our life with each other. We also went camping in the night. We made the fire to keep warm, and also made the s’mores on the fire. It was my first time to make the s’mores with chocolate and cookie. I was so excited when they taught me how to do it with fire. We went camping in the night, for sure, someone shared some scary ghost stories during camping. I always leave when someone talks about scary story, however, I was not leaving this time, for they talked in English, haha, I just tried to play with my iPhone to try not to pay attention too much. I survived this time. I was so lucky. 😀

I really enjoyed our retreat this time, even though many people didn’t show up. There was so much fun there; especially since it was a small group. We shared and learned about our strengths. I called this retreat is “Sharing Weekend”: sharing, listening, and learning.

I’m looking forward to more sharing and more learning in this leadership program.

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Hi Fontbonne!!!

How is everyone doing today? Good, bad, sad, crappy, etc? Well, I sure hope those negative ones have disappeared!

When you have a bad day, it’s hard to stay positive and do things well. I definitely know how that feels because I sure do get grumpy when I’m upset. However, I don’t like to let it control my mind or actions. It’s just not worth it. I tell myself that it’ll get better. I also thank God for that.

Speaking of God, my blog today is about the Metanoia #8 retreat that I just returned from. Metanoia means “change of heart.” In other words, you open yourself up to God so he can give you the love, strength, support, and care that you need. Also, you open yourself up to others. You may not know them or even met them before, but the retreat changes that. There were people that went to the previous retreats as well, including myself. This retreat was my second trip. Why did I go again? Well, I loved it the first time and God continues to surprise me! I also got the chance to understand the people who I already knew and who I just met.

God is not just anybody. I won’t say that I know exactly who he is because I’m still getting to know him. So let’s be patient. I have come to learn and even feel how God has changed my life. There were many times when I’ve doubted myself (actually I still do but not too often) or even hated myself for crazy reasons. But I think about Him, and I know He comforts me every time. I love God.

So, the retreat included Campus Ministry Director, Sarah Boul, Sister Amy Diesen, team members: Isabella (Izzy) Liu, Cassie Dougherty, Catherine Jaeger, Andrea Artz, Andrea Coffey, Sam Beaty, Tyler Fernandez, and Jes Stevens, and retreatants: myself, Hayden Pattinson, Rachel, Brittny Radley, Ana Soares, Chantal Brown, Andrea Bailey, and Deanna. This was a smaller group compared to last year, but we still had a really amazing and energetic team.

Our retreat location this year was in Dittmer, Missouri, about 45 minutes from Fontbonne. It was a very beautiful place and the building is very warm and comfortable. We were divided into different rooms, so I was with Jes, Andrea B., and Sam. Later, we were split into our small groups with a team leader. In my group, I had Jes (team leader), Hayden, and Rachel. I got the chance to know Jes even more and Rachel and Hayden. Hayden didn’t talk as much, but we all hoped he will open up.

Compared to last fall, I was much more outgoing and I talked to almost everyone there. Everyone’s personalities were great. During reconciliation, we had sat in our own spots to think about our lives and how God has influenced us. I thought about my family, especially my mom, and my boyfriend, Michael. I also thought about my friends from high school and the friends I’ve met at Fontbonne. In the small booklet that we all received for the retreat, I wrote down little things and questions from my mind. When I thought about my mom, I teared up a little. She has done so much for me and I hope that she knows how much I care for and love her. God has shown me how to work my way through my struggles and pain.

During reconciliation, Sarah and Brother Brad (I’m not sure who he is or what he looked like!) were doing the “confession” times for anyone who needed to confess or to just talk to. I didn’t feel too much trouble so I stayed at my spot the whole time. We had a long reconciliation, but I was patient and just thought about good things. I prayed for everyone in my life, even for people who I barely talk to.

The fun things that I got to do were games, bonfire, and movie. We played Uno then Phase 10 at one point. I played Uno before, but not Phase 10. I had so much fun with my fellow retreatants. Oh, the food there were very delicious, too.

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