“take it back now, y’all”

Let’s rewind to August 22. Welcome to sensory overload aka [dis]orientation. the beginning of a YAV year starts with orientation in Stony Point, NY. Bear with me as I walk you through the week that was a non-stop avalanche of intake for all five sense and then some. Consider:


There were 67 new people. We all introduced ourselves and began the awkward forced friendship phase where handshakes seem too formal so you start hugging them even though you barely remember their name.


Fresh produce from the garden, home baked cookie bars, salad bar at every meal. Iced tea and a seemingly unending flow of coffee. In case you’re lost on this one, Stony Point Center is a unique multifaith living community.


Aside from the aforementioned cookie bars, the fresh smell of the outdoors really made me smile each morning as I scooted my drowsy self towards the dining hall.


I heard the bubbling chatter, the heartfelt stories, the secret fears, the dense silences. They were all the things whispered and yelled and unsaid throughout the week.


Humans rarely close our eyes, and sight tends to be the sense that dictates our experiences and memories. Orientation was no different as I saw a lot happening; I saw strangers’ faces and now recognize them as those of friends.



What happened when the five physical senses aren’t quite enough to convey what is really happening? I tend to rely on ~vibes~ when I asses and describe situations and people. YAV orientation is meant to turn our understanding of the world on its head, therefore disorienting us as we prepare to relocate. The vibes of orientation were, put simply, overwhelming.

We kickstarted the week with a workshop session entitled Critical Cultural Competency. The content was familiar after my classes at American University which allowed my to more productively process what I was hearing. The challenge, as always, will prove to be maintaining and implementing the same thought process throughout the year.

To all the other YAVs reading this (which is probably more than any other group), sending all y’all the good vibes! Keep noticing and wondering.




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