PPR 2020 discusses the state of politics during annual retreat

Kidi Tafesse

Contributing Writer

This past weekend, students, staff and faculty joined to partake in the annual PossePlus Retreat (PPR). Situated in Salt Fork Park Lodge, a two-hour drive away from the College, this year’s participants were treated to the fun exercises and valuable activities that usually characterize PPR. This year’s theme was “PPR 2020: The State of Politics,” which couldn’t have come at a better time as the 2020 election approaches and it becomes increasingly impor- tant to engage in healthy and productive political discourse. Students, staff and faculty alike got the opportunity to engage in an informal setting and discuss both comfortable and uncomfortable topics.

“I learned about tools to use when having a political discussion: consider being wrong, attack the idea not the individual and just be an active listener,” said Delitza Nieves ’22, who attended the retreat. This can be seen in some of the activities the retreat involved: “One exercise that stood out to me the most was when we were presented with 11 or 12 different qualities posted around the room to make a productive conversation. We were then asked to stand next to the ones that we have the most difficulty with and the ones that we thought we had a good read on; just hearing people reflect on the things that they weren’t good at was nice to hear because it gave people a chance to think about why they were having difficulties in the first place and to think about what steps they can take to become good at it,” said Aryana Rhodes ’22, who was invited to the retreat by a Posse scholar.

Moreover, the retreat involved activities that engaged everyone in simulations of real-life issues so they could have a better understanding of the delicate balance between politics and issue resolution. For instance, one exercise involved a scenario in which a city was hit with an unexpected drought, and the members of the exercise acted as policy makers and had to decide which problems took priority and what the most effective wayof handling the situation was in a designated time frame. These exercises, of course, were not lacking in their production of diverse opinions. “The politics portion of the weekend reminded me of how everything in this country is politicized, and it seems as though you have to have an opinion on something,” added Posse Scholar Perry Worthey ’21. Although the focus of the retreat was embracing different beliefs and discussing difficult topics with an open mind and no judgement, PPR was definitely not short of fun, relaxing activities too. A no-talent talent contest and “warm and fuzzy” (an activity involving writing sticky notes to people to compliment them on their qualities) were just some of the numerous playful events everyone got to enjoy during the weekend.

There was also an emotional event as the last activity of the retreat. “Taps” involved sitting with your eyes closed and everyone taking turns to tap participants on the shoulder in response to prompts such as “tap someone who inspired you.”

“I’m usually sitting in a puddle of emotional tears by the end of it—it is a moving experience to be the recipient of these anonymous gestures of appreciation,”said Director of Campus Dining and Conference Services Marjorie Shamp.

Overall, this was yet another successful and well-rounded PPR and matched the expectations of the previous years. The wide range of events and topics from stimulating political issues to fun icebreakers and activities made the PPR experience one to remember.