You can only experience growth if you step out of your comfort zone. I do believe I have grown.
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI) in Simi Valley, California. BCI is a 26-day program for young Jewish adults ages 18-26.
During my 26 days I sang, danced, learned, explored my artistic side, met amazing people, gardened, and really took some quality “me time”. It was so great to be a camper again!
Every day we began with a spiritual practice of choice such as meditation, yoga, walking, learning, or praying. After that we had breakfast as a community then split up for service work. I spent most of my time working in the organic garden, a territory that felt very familiar to me. After our morning work we would join together again for Torah study and learning. The education staff led us in interesting conversation and occasionally a guest speaker would come to study with us. After study we would join together for lunch before heading to our arts workshops.
Every participant chooses an art workshop for the summer. This year some amazing artists offered: music/song-writing, exploratory dance, film, 2-D art, theater, and my workshop of choice, photography. We were each encouraged to choose a workshop that was outside of our comfort zone. I have dabbled in most of the performing arts and expressing myself in a “loud” way comes easily, so I challenged myself by trying a “quiet” visual art.
Following our arts workshops was some free time, singing and Israeli folk dancing, dinner, and an evening program. Evening programs were different every night and included things like a drum circle, a musical performed by recovering addicts, and community discussions.
Following Havdallah every week there was a unique opportunity to get involved with a collaborative performance piece. I used this opportunity to perform a couple of short monologues while others brought it to life with movement. I also enjoyed our day out when we collaborated with the 2-D art workshop at the UCLA sculpture garden.
We really formed a community, shared our stories with each other every day, created art we are proud of, and took some time to reflect and re-center before being returned to the many places we come from. I am so grateful for the time I had at BCI and the people I had the pleasure of spending that time with. I miss it already but am excited to bring what I learned back to my community at AHA.