“‘We have a long way to go,’ sighed the boy. ‘Yes, but look how far we’ve come,’ said the horse.”
These words, from Charlie Mackesy’s “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse”, inspired the theme of the first annual Sisu Senior Retreat, which took place in the spring semester. On April 1, 2022, eleven graduating seniors gathered to reflect on who they were when they began their journey at Finlandia University and how they see themselves now.
Hosted by the Seaton Center for Vocation & Career, students were invited to participate in the Senior Sisu Retreat through a campus-wide nomination process. The Seaton Center received 20 nominations from campus community members, including faculty and staff. Rather than focusing exclusively on academic achievement, nominators submitted the names of students who’ve experienced substantial personal growth, including a paragraph on how they’ve witnessed each student step into their own power and personhood over the last four years. These statements were shared with the students at the retreat following a discussion of vocational discernment and individual strengths. Nominator statements were also shared individually with those unable to attend the retreat.
The retreat took place at Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp in Crystal Falls, MI, and included several sessions designed to foster reflection, discussion, and appreciation for oneself and one’s community. Students and Seaton Center staff read excerpts from Voices on Vocation by Dr. Steven Garber. Students then had the opportunity to meet virtually with the author to ask questions and profit from his insights into this important transitional moment in their lives. Later, the group completed several reflection exercises focusing on helping them to take their strengths and contributions to the world seriously. These sessions and activities each spoke to an aspect of the Seaton Center catchphrase underpinning the weekend: “Taking yourself to heart and your heart to your neighbor.”
Students were overwhelmingly positive in their evaluation of the retreat. One participant commented: “This allowed me to figure out what I have to give to the world and how I can benefit society.”
Seaton Center staff members Dr. René Johnson, Director of Vocation and Servant Leadership, and Emma Dorst, Director of Career Services, were honored by the opportunity to connect with this inspiring group of graduates and to learn how they experience themselves and what they bring to the world. The Center is eager to garner continued support for this programming from fellow staff and faculty members. It looks forward to making this retreat an annual highlight of its vocation-centered programming.
The Seaton Center’s mission is to foster among students a greater awareness and appreciation for who they are, as embodied by a simple exchange between Mackesy’s endearing characters: “‘What is your greatest discovery?’ asked the mole. ‘That I’m enough as I am,’ said the boy.”
Article provided by the Seaton Center for Vocation & Career.