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Posse Plus Retreat focuses on “Gen-Y”

By Mike Kleine

Last year’s Posse Plus retreat challenged students and faculty to discuss the issue of race after Obama won the presidency, a topic that many described as emotionally charged. This year, attendants were invited to participate in a discussion on Millennials and the effects of technology on our generation. Though this year’s topic may not seem as controversial as the last, it still offered critical insight on a fairly new topic.

“The topic, Millennials, it’s broad,” said Posse member Mario Macias ’11. “Some people didn’t even know our generation was called the Millennials.”

The Grinnell Posse Plus Retreat occurs once every year during the Spring semester. Students and faculty are invited by Posse scholars to participate in the discussion on a topic—this year, the Millennial generation. This year’s retreat was last weekend at the Renaissance Savery Hotel in Des Moines.

Camila Barrios Camacho ’12, who serves as the current Posse Intern, along with Delmy Delgado ’11, functions as the acting liaison between Posse scholars on campus, the administration and other students. Camacho is in charge of sending emails to students, setting up for the Posse retreat, welcoming next year’s Posse students and planning various events on campus for other Posse scholars.

“I really want to emphasize that the scholarship is a leadership scholarship,” Camacho said, “so all of the students who are Posse students were very active at their high schools.”

Millennials are people who were born anytime between the years 1982-2001, according to the Posse Plus Facebook invitation. Many discussions during the retreat cited important figures and influences, including Lady Gaga, 9/11, Columbine, Kanye West, and Obama. The retreat also focused on the effects of text-messaging and social networking, a potential hazard to the Millennial generation in terms of communication and social interactions.

“I thought the topic was interesting but a bit weaker than other topics we’ve discussed in the past,” said Lauren Johnson ’11. “The topic allowed more people to engage but it didn’t necessarily flow as well as some of the past topics we have discussed,” she said.

Before leaving campus, attendants were asked to complete an online survey. The answers were then used in a Posse-modified version of the popular television show “Family Feud.” One of the questions asked to identify the faces of the Millennial generation. Answers included Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Barack Obama. This game was followed by the first workshop of the evening.

“I really liked the small group discussions,” Hanan Romodan ’13 said. “We really got to [engage] with the topics we discussed.”

One activity in particular, a severely altered version of the game of Life, served as an eye-opener for what to expect in the “real world,” after college. Attendants were instructed to partner up, which led to interesting pairings since genders played an important role in the structure of the game. Partners played the role of married couples, and each member would begin the game by selecting an academic field to pursue. The choices were Sciences, Humanities, Arts, Business and Communication. After selecting their paths, the participants were shown a slide that revealed the annual salaries for each of their professions. Those in the Sciences earned the most, a whopping $45,000, while the Arts professionals earned a meager $20,000.

“The game was really practical,” Macias said, “though it was a little in your face, especially for those who are about to graduate.”

Several simulated situations required the participants to make a real-life decisions on matters like renting or buying a home, having children, spending time with friends, participating in community service and attending graduate school. Those who chose to attend graduate school received a bonus $10,000 to their salary after each round but were left with a giant debt of $50,000.

Among the several different activities and workshops, Saturday afternoon ended with one-on-one discussions called dyads.

“The dyads … were the most effective activity,” said Cyril Afeku ’13. “I was able to get to know the person I was with in a much better way.”

The Posse program recruits high school students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities within their home communities, offering them an opportunity to attend colleges like Grinnell, Hamilton, Carleton, Pomona and others. Grinnell takes Posse students from the areas around Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

“A lot of the time, it’s their [Posse scholars’] first experience being in this kind of environment and they don’t feel like they have anywhere to go,” said Devin Turner ’12. “Posse is a great way to overcome that feeling. … I’ve seen some Posse kids go out and make their own way.”

As part of the Posse Plus Retreat tradition, Posse scholars are encouraged to invite new faculty and students every year, so as to improve the college body’s collective understanding of the Posse program and its goals.

“I’m coming off of the retreat feeling hopeful,” Johnson said. “Our generation hasn’t really had its time to shine yet and that makes me feel more confident about what needs to be done to lead this generation.”

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