On Dec. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Student Programs will be holding an all-day mid-year leadership retreat preview in the Bellevue College cafeteria facilitated by Tikka Sears and Shontina Vernon of Seattle’s Memory War Theater.
Memory War Theater amplifies marginalized voices by creating innovative performances, community partnerships, and educational workshops. Mid-year retreats happen every year, and this one will be focused on leadership.
The event is free for everyone who is interested. Students who attend will watch and participate in real-life skits about microaggressions, oppression and privilege. The retreat will be an interactive workshop on personal and community transformations through performing arts.
“We take everybody, whether they self-identify as a leader or doubt their leadership skills. Hopefully their skills are improved after this retreat,” said Student Programs Manager Chris Stoynov.
“The focus for this session is to talk about helping students get in touch with the fact that they encounter microaggressions” explained Jose “Skip” Samplayo, the event organizer. “We encounter them all day long and they deeply affect us.” The event will begin with students talking what microaggressions are, as well as discussing bullying, marginalization and oppressions. To explore these concepts, students will first watch a scenario about them. “We’re trying to do this in an interactive way.”
Afterwards, students will have the opportunity to redo the skit and attempt to fix the scene by getting rid of microaggressions. Students will have the opportunity to intervene in an oppressive scenario and improvise new outcomes and solutions. In this way, students will learn leadership, and how to use words and actions to counter-balance oppression. “Teaching leadership is not a title or a position. All of us should be leaders.” said Samplayo. “We need to take the actions to call out those microaggressions.”
In the end, students will learn to raise awareness about power, privilege and oppression and recognize and speak out in the face of that oppression. “Hopefully, they’ll learn quite a bit about self-awareness and understanding our own situations and creating empathy and understanding others,” said Samplayo.
In addition to exploring power, privilege and oppression, a continental breakfast and lunch will be provided for students, as well as raffles to win prizes as well. To attend the event, applications are located on the Student Programs section of the Bellevue College website. The application requires information such as name, food preference for the breakfast and lunch, and groups or clubs they are involved in on campus. If spots are available, all applicants will be accepted.
“This is about things that are happening around us, right now,” stated Samplayo. Samplayo will also be teaching an inclusive leadership course in the upcoming winter quarter. During the course, students will discuss different issues regarding how leaders need to be more inclusive. The course is a two-credit class and tuition is free, provided that students sign up through Samplayo through a work grant. If students enjoy the leadership retreat or are interested in leadership, this may be a class to sign up for.