Experience Areté

Excellence. Valor. Virtue.


Areté gave me an important connection outside of the popularity jungles of public school. It is hard to answer the question of 'long term impact'. I honestly do not have contact with anybody else who participated in the program, which is partially if not fully my fault (that is not to say that after Areté all contact was immediately lost, but through the college years as everybody drifted contact slowly degraded). But I look back on the experience fondly. I still have my Areté journals. I am sure that the experience shaped who I have become. But I can’t explicitly state Areté did this for me' or Areté did that for me'.  I suppose Areté  helped me understand that I was holding back from forming relationships with my peers, because I perceived myself as 'unpopular' and did not believe kids my age would want to associate with me. Now that sounds more desperate than it was and I knew we were just kids and we would 'grow out' of that popularity mindset. But Areté helped me realize (again, this is in hindsight, I don’t think I totally understood this at the time) that I was just as much a participant in the popularity contest world of high school that I hated, because I was playing my part of unpopular kid. And I was waiting for everybody else to 'grow up' and then approach me. It helped me grow out of that fear of rejection and start trying to make friends with people.  I have no doubt Areté helped give me the confidence in my social self to try to meet new people and not fear their rejection. And all those new relationships and experiences build on each other to make me who I am today. So Areté was an essential piece of that foundation that helped me grow a bit out of teenage adolescence and into young adulthood.

The program made me a more outgoing person while also teaching me patience and tact. I learned the importance of listening versus always being the center of attention. It became apparent that a person who does not listen isn't the best kind of leader.

Benefits for doing the program in high school were mainly because kids in high school are starting to develop who they will become and why not become someone who tries new things, overcomes challenges, and relates to others?

I really learned how to think outside of the box to solve problems. How to share concerns with people without being confrontational. I also really appreciated having a safe space to share what I was going through in life.

Listening and patience. It is easy to jump in and solve a problem for someone if you've done the activity before. It is hard to be the person that someone bounces ideas off of.

Believe in self. Trust others

Public speaking, General Confidence, Ability and practice leading a group, General planning and organizational skills, Comfort and experience with all different types of people, Compassion and a Direction for my life.  The list could go on and on.

The mentors were dynamic, charismatic, educated, and well-rounded individuals. Their guidance was instrumental. I still have my journals with heart- felt messages and contact information.

I would say pretty much every activity helped me develop skills: from the “small” activities to the big ones. The small activities, like the “I like to move it, move it”, the talent show, “bumpity bump bump bump” or the game show helped me gain confidence and be comfortable with myself and with people of my own age. Larger activities and experiences, like being a mentor or being involved with the planning of Arete, helped me further my confidence, helped me learn time management skills, skills with leading and instructing people, and helped me get into college. I can't think of one experience that didn't help me in some way. I remember one specific experience that really impacted me. I think it was my first time as a mentor. Celine assigned me a mentee that I was really nervous about. I was a straight arrow in high school. I didn't drink, I didn't break rules, I really did everything "right". My mentee was the opposite. She was "wild" and loud. I was scared to be her mentor. "What if she doesn't like me?" "What if she wanted to do something bad or against the rules?" I talked to Celine about this and she basically said "Don't worry. Talk to her. Get to know her. It will be fine. You two will have a lot in common." And sure enough, we did. Now, when I meet different types of people, they don't really floor me anymore. I think a lot has to do with that first mentor/mentee experience.

I still have my "believe believe believe" rock. It is still important to me.

We received notebooks at the end of the program and were asked to write in each others' books something positive about the book's owner - something we appreciated or liked about them, or learned from them. This exercise encouraged me to take time to see the good in people and look for positive in everything. When life gets tough, which of course it always does, it's such a valuable skill to be able to be optimistic and see the value in even negative experiences. These are often the ones we learn the most from anyways!