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MSM student “Talking Circles” rooted in Native American tradition

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Report by Rosalind Zhang

Earlier this month, 16 MSM students attended the first annual Talking Circles Retreat hosted by the Department of Student Affairs at the YMCA Greenkill Retreat Center in Huguenot, New York.

The gathering is rooted in the Native American tradition — specifically that of the Mi’kmaq people of Canada — who used the Talking Circle as a method for solving interpersonal problems (more photos below).

During their time at the retreat, the MSM students took part in various activities to generate dialogue and leadership on issues such as diversity and social justice.

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For the Department of Student Affairs, the Talking Circles Retreat gives MSM students an opportunity to advance their communication and social interaction skills, and become even more effective at connecting with students from other cultures and backgrounds.

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The group enjoyed views of Lake Marling during hikes, made s’mores in the fireplace and slept in Kleinstuber Lodge.

Huguenot, New York is about two hours northwest of New York City in Orange County, not far from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey borders.

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At the end of their Talking Circle journey, the students shared their belief that they’d acquired a new family at MSM!

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It was incredibly inspiring for me. The giant quilt weaved by our individual stories made me realize I am part of this wonderful group of human beings — Rosalind Zhang

I hope everyone got to take something away from this eye-opening and overall lovely experience, because I know I will never forget it and I will always hold you gorgeous angels in a very special place in my heart — Melanie Dubil

This was thus far the most heartwarming, life-changing experience that I will never forget. Trust the process and challenge by choice #MSMTalk360 — Veronica Mak

The retreat was led by four MSM staff facilitators: Jim Love, Director of Residence Life; Melanie Dorsey, Director of Student Engagement; Crystal Wilson, Coordinator of Student Engagement; and Min-Jung Kim, Graduate Hall Coordinator of Residence Life.

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