Saturday, March 3, 2012
Inside I-YEL: Community Meetings
The hardest part of being in I-YEL has always been explaining to others just what I do in one sentence. You can call I-YEL work. You can call I-YEL home. But it’s just too difficult to verbalize how it can be both. We don’t just plant trees, we don’t just make carnivals, and we don’t just play games all day; the problem with trying to explain I-YEL lies in its diverse culture, its ever-changing influences and perspectives, which effectively transform the whole program into something new every year, and make the program as impossible to predict as the weather in San Francisco.
Take, for example, the average I-YEL community meeting, one of the best examples of I-YEL’s culture. A community meeting is generally defined as a fun, relaxing way to bring the team back together at the end of a hard day of work.
The “average” meeting is crazy, like a massive explosion of confusion and competition, revolving around water balloons and/or epic, ridiculous, (but not inherently dangerous) dares. To illustrate my case, today, Kathleen led the team in a guessing game type of meeting, in which a team had one member blindfolded and another member sent to the opposing side; the blindfolded person had to guess the identity of the opposing team’s mystery guest. Only three clues were allowed: hobbies, childhood history, and Sunday evening activities. Guessing wrong resulted in a water balloon pummeling. The day ended with Jie sprayed in the ear, Sintia sprayed in the face, and the pot of remaining water getting dumped on Nathaniel, not to mention numerous other casualties.
Community meetings have definitely changed over the years, from straight-up water balloon fights, to obstacle courses, meditations and reflections, and traditional cultural games. I believe community meetings, when created with enough effort and creativity, allow the team to grow as a team, but also learn about the person making the meeting. An I-YELer can pour their heart and soul into their activity, and the whole team will feel it in their passion and commitment. There is no format or requirement for a community meeting, except that it helps the team end the day on a high note; each leader gets a blank slate to fill up with their activity; the best ones bring the team closer together and tend to leave the team drenched.