Student Reflections

Ward Mailliard: I’m curious if some of you who are the Mount Madonna student contingent, would actually feed back to this community of learners – what struck you, or touched you, or awakened in the process of the engagement of all of us together, and to maybe to take a sampling of that to help us understand what the heck we were talking about. But we want to hear your voices and hear – just hear the sound of the texture of your experience that’s been happening in the process of us being together.

Quincy Mitchell: I’d actually like to address what Vivian said to us this morning, if that’s alright – because I think what she said really spoke to my experience with this year’s Chautauqua in particular. Vivian refereed Angeles and Peter as the headliners – I had a similar word for them which is “Superstars”. And I think what happens in a community like this, where you find yourself suddenly without your superstars, I think there’s two things that have to happen. And the first thing is, the community has to appoint more superstars before they’re ready to make that appointment, and the superstars have to accept that appointment before they’re ready to. And I think, over the course of this Chautauqua we’ve built about 5-6 more superstars. So whether we’re hearing from Peter next year, or Gary, sign me up. Whether we’re hearing from Peter next year, or Jessica, sign me up. Whether we’re hearing from Peter next year or Beth, sign me up; because everyone here is a superstar and it’s just fantastic.

Rod Caborn: I’d like to hear from Quincy next year!

Ward: The thing about Quincy is he’s always been a superstar. So he’s speaking with a certain authority there. Who would like to go next?


Cassie Caborn: Well something that struck me and stuck with me lately was the whole concept of the “underground”. Because I’d always assumed like, “I’m not an underground, I have a great family, I go to a great school…” But I think from here, talking to other people, everyone has their own underground. And everyone has their own meaning to what that is to them. And it’s not compared to anyone else’s, and that it’s ok to be there. And the first step is like being aware that it’s actually present. And you actually can be there and it will be ok, and I feel like that’s the first step of acknowledging that it’s there and its presence.

Amber Zeise: I think to really touch on SN’s question, on a really basic level, I think age is another way to separate people – we have adults and we have children. And just like we separate cultures or we separate religions, that when we bring separate groups of people together we make magic. And whenever we experience something outside of ourselves, we learn something about ourselves, as well as them. So I think that’s part of the magic of Chautauqua – and that it’s so incredible for me, I was talking to Jessica today about my first Chautauqua, and the first time I had an adult look me in the eye and say, “Wow, what you said matters to me.” And that incredibly empowering moment; and I feel like to a certain extent, it’s also nice for adults to feel important to kids. And so I think it goes incredibly both ways. That I truly believe it’s just as powerful for me to be in the room of people, that until Chautauqua, I considered above me, rather than being with me. So I just want to thank all of you for giving us that experience, because now when I go out into the world, and I experience people, I look for people, I don’t settle. So thank you all.

Brooke Staveland: So I think, like a lot of people here, this was a year for me of transitions. And it was a hard year for me, and I had a couple endings that were unexpected. So I’ve been not my total self, and I think being out in the world away from Mount Madonna, it’s easy to not focus on the things that are hard and that are going on for you. But in the past 3 days, one of the big themes is authenticity. And it’s just really a blessing to be with people who really want to know your real answer and really want to know what’s working you. Even if it’s not all pleasant. So for me it’s just really nice to be with people who are calm and are aware and really want to know. So thank you.

Lexi Julien: I think my biggest takeaway from the past 3 days is learning to recognize the difference between feeling vulnerable and choosing to be vulnerable. For me, in my personal journey that was a major transition that I made when I came to Mount Madonna. Before hand, I had had a really rough time for 4 years. I came to Mount Madonna for a change, and I came reserved, isolated, like I had been hurt by people, so I tried to stay away from that. But in my 3 years here, I have opened up and instead of feeling vulnerable, and feeling like others can hurt me, I have chosen to open myself up to the possibility of getting hurt, but instead of getting hurt, I’m finding that by being vulnerable to people, I only strengthen my relationships. And being here, I was so reminded of that. And I think that difference is something that we all need to remember; because feeling vulnerable is scary and it’s so easy to stay in that state. But when you choose to be vulnerable it creates a safety for others to become vulnerable in return.


Sophie Kamkar: I think when Larry was talking about what the – how that girl got her own story from the teacher – something that always strikes me when I go to Chautauqua, is the topic of how the student can learn from the teacher, and how the teacher learns from the student. And I’ve always – when I go to Chautauqua, I kind of always look at everybody as everybody is on the same level of teacher and student, if that makes sense. And I think one of the most fascinating things is being able to – and for me, one of the best things about Chautauqua is being to talk to people who you don’t know anything about really, and you’ve never met them before, but in some strange way, that vulnerability allows you to see them in the realist way, just from the surface of who they are, without the knowledge of all of the backstories and the details about them. I feel like that is the best way to see somebody – and yesterday when we were doing the practice with creating a story with the shapes, both of my partners were able to analyze my story in a way that was entirely not what I had intended, but it was completely accurate. And I always feel like, when I talk to people at Chautauqua, somehow even though they don’t know me, they completely understand me and can relate to everything that I’m saying. So that’s what I takeaway.

Blythe Collier: So especially today, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between authenticity and vulnerability. And that was inspired by the conversation about the underground. But I wanted to thank some of the newer faces in the room that asked our community – the community of Chautauqua to take a step forward in authenticity and vulnerability and keep shaking things up and keep trying; cause I think one of the difficulties that goes along with the blessing of knowing everyone in the community really well, is you can get caught in boxes of thought patterns where you think people know who you are, you think you know who you are, because they have expectations of who you are. And everyone says what they’re supposed to say in the script, and the conversations end up sounding the same. And once it happens, even if it was inspired by authentic things in the beginning, I think sometimes the vulnerability can go away and you’re not thinking about what you’re saying anymore. So I really wanted to thank the newer ones in the room that allowed me and many others that I’ve talked to, to take a step further and get out of our comfort zone and keep shaking things up. Cause once we stay in our comfort zone, and we stop trying to keep moving forward, there’s no room for growth in the box of thought patterns. So thank you.

Vivian Wright: Well we have an invitation of a question for the small group. But at this point I’m not really attached to my knowing more than anyone else’s in the room. But if it morphs, please let it. But here’s the excuse for having a conversation, and that is on the orthodox side of subversive orthodoxy, there’s the dilemma of when you feel a calling to act, what’s the avalanche line that keeps you in tact in the risk taking of responding to your call? For me the orthodoxy side, the inner knowing, that wild hair in me, that knows when a ‘yes’ is ‘yes,’ even if it’s scary. So here’s the invitation: if I were really listening to my inner voice, now, what would I admit it’s telling me? If I really listened to my inner voice now in my life, what would I have to admit it’s telling me? So there aren’t that many people that don’t know each other well here right now –

Ward: If you haven’t had a conversation with somebody and you’d like to, grab them. Don’t wait to be asked, and you know the rest.