The four-hour pilgrimage to Charleston was long, laborious, and laden with lazily-composed peanut butter and jelly rolls reminiscent of sawdust, but once my fellow Weir High Inspired Leader and I arrived at the Civic Action Retreat, it was all worth it.
We were greeted by familiar faces; friends from this summer’s Leadership Academy directed us to the conference room where we’d be reunited with many of our state’s incredible student voters.
As an introductory activity, we congregated in groups to share this school year’s trials and triumphs regarding our voter registration efforts. It was comforting to realize other leaders were facing similar obstacles, but even more of a solace was found in the solutions everyone proposed; it was very much a collaborative, supportive environment. This atmosphere was carried on throughout the day-- in our civic action circles, where state legislators led discussions about advocacy, and in the community involvement activity proctored by Obi Henderson.
So many ideas were spit-balled across the room; everyone discussed local and national issues, and how their projected career paths could someday alleviate those problems. I, for example, declared I wanted to pursue journalism so that others may find themselves instilled with their own drive to improve our world. I want to promote literacy by volunteering with the Peace Corps, an experience I hope to share afterwards through my words. With encouragement from Mr. Henderson and other Inspired Leaders, I concluded that advocating for service and empathy were the two greatest ways for me to contribute to our planet, and I think this is what Inspire is really all about: motivating other people to not only involve themselves in the community, but to interact with it wholeheartedly, intending to not only partake but to impact.
The retreat concluded with a presentation courtesy of a Mr. Stephen Smith, an uplifting speaker who elaborated on the intricacies of activism. It was the most invigorating way to end the afternoon; I’ve never felt so Inspired (I’m patting myself on the back for my own pun) to make change-- to leave that retreat with renewed purpose extending beyond voter registration. This organization is about leading with confidence in the face of adversity, and I was certainly reminded of that last weekend at our Civic Action Retreat.
Four hours driving back to my hometown filled themselves with the trademark contemplation and vigor of an activist prepared to make change. And perhaps most importantly, enlightened by the vast possibilities of the future thanks to my day with Inspire, I found that those stale peanut butter and jelly rolls tasted slightly less like sawdust.