About a month ago, I served as an advisor for my institution’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) leadership conference. It was called the Most eXtreme Leadership Conference, or MXLC for short. This retreat was fairly small and only included the RHA team and individual hall Community Council Executive teams (roughly 30-35 students).
Interestingly, this conference was very small and intimate – more so than other retreats and conferences I have attended. For me, it was a lot easier to connect with the students leaders, including some who I won’t be working with necessarily. The conference as a whole was very impactful from beginning to end. I enjoyed every minute of it as an advisor. It really resonated with me to see our student leaders really take what they were given and run with it.
I am a huge advocate for learning off campus. I think taking students away from campus helps with separating their academic world from their personal growth and development. You can imagine my excitement to travel to a campground for a weekend and assist in facilitating activities and discussions to build up our incoming students’ leadership skills. During this retreat, we based everything off of activities. We didn’t really have a talking head telling students what they should be getting out of the weekend. Instead, we gave tangible activities to actively participate in.
One activity that I think really impacted our students was a Diversity Dialogue. This activity had everyone come together in one big safe circle to discuss some high tension current events. Of course, we kept everything within the circle, so I won’t be sharing specifics. But I could see the thinking happening with all of our students during this activity. Some of them stuck to their guns and others shared what they thought and then listened to opposing viewpoints. A few even amended their original thoughts. It did not get crazy and people were not shouting at each other. Instead, it was a calm conversation about what is happening in the world.
The Diversity Dialogue activity should be happening more often than it does on college campuses.
Our students have opinions and ideas about what is happening in the world. In taking time to share different viewpoints, it helps them grow and develop into better leaders for the future. This retreat has helped the Presidents become stronger leaders for their respective teams.
I am confident that this retreat accomplished what it set out to do. All the activities played a part in their growth and development. The Diversity Dialogue activity, in particular, definitely seemed to resonate with our students even a month after this conference.