International Staff Meetings began a week ago. Twice a year all the WYA staff from each of the 5 offices worldwide comes to NY and we plan strategically, have a chance to share our experiences and just get to know each other better. This year, we were lucky enough to be hosted at two houses in the Hamptons for week 2.
Tuesday, we arrived to Bridgehampton around noon. Francois and I jogged to the house we were staying at, initially in the wrong direction. Then drove back to the train station to pick up all the luggage while the staff walked. The house is great, 8 of us are staying in one place and four at another so they drive over every evening and come back to join for staff meetings.
We've all entered heaven. Tuesday we arrived and after a quick lunch we drove to the beach at the bottom of the road. I made 3 trips, and by the time I finally got out of the car I was so excited to go swimming. The waves were huge and crashing on the shore with enough spray to knock you down and chuck you meters further up the beach. All the staff were sitting calmly on their towels, chatting. I slowed down enough to throw my towel and shirt on the sand and sprinted directly into the waves. Francois followed quickly afterwards, and then Carlos. We dove right into the waves and although the initial shock of the cold was quite intense, the joy of swimming in the ocean more than made up for it. Carlos managed to stay in about 2 minutes before his Paraguayan body refused to deal with the chill anymore.
After a few minutes of swimming we moved on to body surfing. By this time, a number of the other staff had at least moved far enough down the beach to dip their toes in the surf. Shannon eventually joined and once we were out beyond the breaking waves confessed she wasn't such a confident swimmer. We stayed out there till we had some waves small enough I thought she might enjoy the ride. We missed the first wave, caught the second and while I got out of the surf Shannon didn't move quickly enough and got swamped by a big one. After that experience she was quite shaken up, perhaps still is, and stayed out of the ocean for the rest of the day.
Carlos and I threw a frisbee around for a little while as everyone else relaxed and chatted. Thunderclouds started to roll up and the sky got quite dark after a little over an hour so we had to leave.
After supper while Francois, Becky, Carlos and Des drove over to their home the rest of us settled into the attic to watch some, what Carlos would call, chicken flicks. Our goal was to watch the most ridiculous, brainless, girliest movie we could find. Sadly, all those movies had already been watched to death. We did find one that was still functional, The Prince and Me, Part 2. Which we followed with A Girl in the Cafe, a love story which takes place around the UN and Millenium Development Goals. I absolutely loved A Girl in the Cafe, it is one of the most awkward love stories ever. Both protagonists were such socially inept, awkward conversationalists, that watching their interactions and flirting was so painful. I think part of its charm is I could remember conversations I've had with people like that, and I'd always wondered how they got to know people or fell in love, now I know!
Today we began our day with a game called SPUD, in which the person who is "it" counts to 3 while everyone else runs as far as they can. Then the "it" person has 3 steps to take in any direction to hit someone with a sock. Each time someone is hit by a sock they receive a letter and upon completing SPUD, they are eliminated. I've been playing games with the staff each morning to introduce them to all sorts of icebreakers they can use in their own work. Becky, especially, intensely dislikes these exercises and upon hearing of this morning's game was especially disappointed. So we decided the game could also be called MARY, the important thing being that it remains a four letter word :)
During lunch today, I went to the beach again for a quick swim (of course also attempting to tan somewhat). This evening we had a BBQ out in the backyard. Basically, it's been a little slice of heaven for all of us here. Only two more days, they will pass us by much too quickly.