September 11 2015

The most rewarding thing for me throughout such a stressful summer was receiving the opportunity to go on a retreat with Women Empowered to the Sierra Nevadas, along with 12 other Building Healthy Communities sites across California.

The experience I endured at the Sisterhood Rising camp was like no other. It gave me the chance to connect with several young ladies across California and reflect upon where our community stands and the things that still need to be changed because of the injustices received in each and every one of our communities.

To begin day one, we created community agreements for each participating member to follow throughout the whole retreat. This helped put each and every one of us in a safe and positive environment. This also gave us the chance to challenge ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout the five-day retreat.

Young women engage in an exercise examining identity.
Young women engage in an exercise examining identity.

We did this by connecting with our sisters and sharing our stories, overcoming our fears of heights and trying different obstacles such as the rope courses or zip-line, as well as breaking wood to release any negativity or emotions felt from unethical things once said to us that have been designed to break us down.

Alyssa, on the far left, feeling satisfied after doing the ropes course with a few sisters.
Alyssa, on the far left, feeling satisfied after doing the ropes course with a few sisters.

Moreover, we were able to put our leadership skills into practice by not only learning the type of leader we were but also by being surrounded with a group of leaders. We were taught the importance of what it means to speak up and use our ‘lioness’ voices, as well as how to set up a healthy community or how to initiate change within our environment. I learned that I am an executive leader that likes to get things done in a very hands on way.

Young women engaged in a discussion at the camp.
Young women engaged in a discussion at the camp.

I also learned the effects of patriarchy, classism and racism, the very root that impedes access to health, education and success. During this retreat I was able to formulate my ideas, find out more about myself, and develop friendships with people across California. I developed a better sense of who I am, who I want to be, and what I have yet to accomplish for both myself and my community. This retreat was the most beneficial, yet exciting retreat on which I have ever been.

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