The Fall BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] Retreat led me on a path back home to myself. To me, returning “back home to myself’ meant recognizing, welcoming, and celebrating my truth – my identity lived out fully. I entered JVC Northwest bringing with me years of shame, frustration, and burden from navigating spaces where I was visibly and culturally distinct. My four months serving in Portland is no different. In a city that is demographically white-dominated and has a history of white supremacy, I am still experiencing these feelings that can be difficult to process in these areas. The retreat gave me a safe, welcoming, and affirming space to explore my feelings and racial identity that I long overlooked. Through group discussions, dyads, and activities, I felt empowered to reframe struggle as resilience and strength in the face of ongoing racial injustice. Over the course of the weekend, I felt part of a community that I could truly be myself around. Moving forward, I hope to recognize racial injustice within myself and those around me, to welcome pain as an opportunity for growth, and to celebrate my melanated culture with courage.