Each January, YISS middle and high school students in the Oasis program participate in Special Emphasis Week (SEW), and this year’s event took place from January 23-26. Students had extended “Ossembly” times Tuesday-Friday in order to examine a particular theme.
This year, the middle and high school Ossemblies welcomed singer-songwriter, author, storyteller, and speaker Justin McRoberts of Oakland, California to inspire and encourage everyone to live lives that are "all in." He spoke of three dimensions of an "all-in" life: "out" refers to our work and our missions in life; "in" is about the people with whom we work and live in community; and "up" speaks of our ultimate motivations. With original songs and stories sprinkled throughout his teaching, Justin challenged everyone to forgive and to love, to work and rest well, and to live in ways that are similar to an artist's creative process.
One of the most meaningful times during SEW was a question-and-answer session on the final day. Students discussed Justin’s career as a traveling recording artist, the relationship between his musicianship and his work as a speaker and author, his philosophical and faith convictions, and what builds a good friendship. Most movingly and practically of all, Justin gave solid counsel on how to be a generous, forgiving, and courageous friend while wisely avoiding abusive or harmful relationships.
On Friday evening, Oasis SEW was wrapped up with an intimate unplugged concert, during which Justin shared his favorite song, his most commercially successful song, one of his earliest songs, and even some requested songs. Many students said this was the best Oasis SEW they had experienced.