What a weekend. I am just settling in from the LAS Mentor/Mentee retreat; my body is in agony and I’m beyond exhausted, but chiefly, I am so happy. This retreat could not have gone any better than it did.
As a returner, I got to play the “mentor” role. My goal was to mentor just the basics; introduce my mentee to people he hasn’t met yet, be a supportive voice, and be an open resource that he can come to if he needs it. Luckily, Jesse seemingly got that. He had no trouble challenging himself, contributing to conversations, and most of all, adding comic relief to the entire weekend. I understand that his actions are not a reflection of my mentorship, but I still felt proud a handful of times throughout the duration of the retreat. For example: on the high ropes course, there was a moment when Jesse and I were determined to act like trapeze artists across one of the obstacles. Our plan involved me sitting on a swing while he sat on my shoulders as I pulled us along the rope to the other side. We quickly learned that our plan was extremely difficult, when I crumpled underneath his mass and began to fall off the swing. Neither of us was too disheartened when we had to readjust and do something “less cool.” In fact, we ended up laughing ridiculously the rest of the way. I know that I had not taught him how to keep positive, even in moments of failure; however, I still felt proud, because I could relate to why he turned a semi-upsetting moment into one of obnoxious laughter. The week was full of obstacles for Jesse and I to overcome; through these, I learned a lot about him and a lot about how I can be the best mentor for him in the future. Getting to understand how he communicates and how he likes to be motivated was useful for me, but also just getting to hang out and laugh until it hurts with this kid is way worth it, and it happened often this weekend. I caught myself feeling proud, lucky, and grateful to call him mentee a hundred times during the retreat; I’m eager to see his successes this coming year and beyond.
Another amazing part of the retreat was sitting around the bonfire at night and making time to express our gratitude for the countless aspects of the program. Whether is was someone speaking about their mentee or mentors triumphs during the ropes course, someone explaining what they enjoy most about being in LAS, and everything else mentioned elicited a feeling of absolute content in me. Standing around that fire, I knew there was absolutely no place I’d rather be. In fact, I wouldn’t trade the world for that exact moment. The gratitude I felt was pretty overwhelming, as I began to speak, myself. Many times this weekend, the idea of “family” was vocalized. The freshmen cohort is a family, the sophomore cohort is a family, the mentorship trees are families, and the entire LAS program is a family, and so on. To me, my cohort is definitely my family. They helped me through the best and worst times of last year when my actual family was too far away to. I do my best to give them the support and attention they need. I am happiest when surrounded by them, because the energy of that group is undying. My cohort is caring, passionate, and proud of differences. I will always love them. Furthermore, watching my class welcome in the incoming class was inspiring. By the end of the retreat, it genuinely felt like we were all one unified class. It helped that they were also welcoming of us; let’s face it, this new class is a good time. They’re gamers, they’re motivated, and they’re hilarious. I’m excited to see where they all end up, knowing that it will be somewhere awesome for each of them.
I say it all the time, but LAS is the greatest thing to have ever happened to me.