Pre-IST Shabbaton Part 2
This past weekend I took part in the IST Shabbaton. This Shabbaton was everything I had hoped for and expected. There were many exciting and joyful moments, stimulating discussions, social experiences and, of course, eating opportunities.
There were a few main things that I took out of the Shabbaton that really have focused my thoughts on what IST will be like. First of all, my excitement for the social experience. I almost cannot contain my excitement; I really am keen to meet new people and reaffirm my connections with those who aren’t so new. I am eager to see just how deep people can be, to interact with them and to introduce them to others. Friendships are a key aspect of an IST experience and I believe that this IST will be one to remember as the group has some real potential to mix perfectly. One thing that I hope to see happen is the breakdown of the social divide between the schools. Happily, this process began on the Shabbaton, but it still has a way to go.
The next aspect that I took out of my Shabbaton was the way to look at Poland. We had many people talk to us about their experiences in the country, telling us both about their positives and negatives. One extraordinary point is that that they all experienced a surprising lack of emotion. From this we learned a lot to do with what we should expect, particularly in respect of how to cope with our own emotional responses. We heard a few stories of people learning about, and seeing the most horrific things in the camps, and really having no reaction at all. This is natural in reality, but to go through it oneself can be distressing for anyone. We learned how to deal with this, and that any reaction in the circumstances is acceptable, even that of complete joy and happiness, which does happen. This explanation, coming from those who’ve been through it themselves, is very reassuring to me.
My final thoughts that I am having about my IST experience are to do with the grouping system. I am somewhat apprehensive. However, I completely trust in the organisational team for IST and expect that that it will work smoothly.. I worry that the 2 groups may prove to be a bit restricting as one would aim to socialise with the largest group possible or at least a more diverse group, as socialising is one of the central aspects of IST. I appreciate that there are times when we all meet, but I am still unsure.
Overall I am thrilled that IST is so soon and I cannot wait to get started. I am looking forward to all the friendships, discussions, learning experiences, spiritual journeys and the general vibe of the trip. Looking only forward!