Touch someone … but not in a creepy way.

This was the last activity of LSJ Class of 2017’s opening retreat. Half of the class sat in chairs with their eyes closed while the facilitator directed the other half of the participants to touch someone (lightly on the shoulder) who:

  • inspired them
  • made them laugh
  • they wanted to get to know better
  • brought great energy
  • exuded kindness
  • encouraged them to rethink something
  • changed their perspective
  • already felt like a new friend

There were smiles and even a few tears. Participant evaluations ranked this as the favorite activity of the retreat, but it was only possible because of what had happened over those two days leading up to Touch Someone.

On Friday, Jan. 13, 35 strangers found their way through the San Jose State University campus to the beautiful new student union building. The university sponsored this day and Spartan Catering provided breakfast and lunch for the group.

The next morning, everyone arrived on time at NextFlex manufacturing in North San Jose. This location was selected, not only for their generous offer of sponsorship, but because both their collaborative business model and commitment to civic engagement. Participants were wowed by the technology and impressed with the wide array of partnerships, internships, job shadows and other experiences NextFlex affords to students.

The day truly got down to business as the group took on their first task: selection of a yearlong community impact project. They heard presentations from three nonprofits selected from a pool of 14 proposals. Following the presentations and some Q&A, the class got to work. They explored their options, discussed personal passions and professional skills, engaged in some lively debate and ultimately determined to partner with StandUpForKids, a local chapter of a national organization that supports youth who are living or spending significant time on the streets.

This project was chosen as the one in which the group felt it could have the most significant, sustainable impact:

  • volunteering to open the site for an additional day each week for nine months
  • doing improvement work to the site
  • working with local volunteers to create a sustainable funding model that includes addressing the issue of rental payments‚Äîan area that consumes most of the organization‚Äôs annual budget

After the intensity of the day, the class was ready to toast one another in a final happy hour celebration where they were joined by several members of the LSJ Advisory Committee. 

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