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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Men and Women of Color Retreat

<ast Friday, a bus full of students headed to Camp Courage in Maple, MN for the three-day Men and Women of Color Retreat. The Office of Intercultural and International Life (OIIL) designed this retreat to help underclassmen adapt to the Carleton community and offer a support system for their transition.

“I came because I really liked my experience last year,” Mo Vue ’14 said. “We developed close relationships and really connected on a deep level.” 

In 1994, as a response to student protests about the lack of support on campus, the  Men  and Women of Color Retreat was created to address the needs of students of color.

Traditionally, the Men and Women retreats were held separately. This year the retreats were combined for the first time in order to build a joint-support community.

“We hope these activities will help men and women work together in a healthy relationship,” said Brisa Zubia ’05, OIIL’s administrative assistant.

The retreat started off with an introduction to the deeper cultural meaning behind students’ names.  Students then expressed their hopes and fears for the weekend and the academic year, with many stating “making new friends and gaining understanding on different cultures” as their expectation for the retreat. 

Expectations were met by activities such as the silent card game and the sharing of social identity.  The silent card game divided the students into four groups, where they were each given a different set of rules. As some groups switched members, people found themselves confused by a new set of rules. Many students saw the game as an analogy of their first year experience, entering a new environment and feeling culture shock.  The sharing of social identity, on the other hand, gave students a chance to express the groups with which they identify and break the associated stereotypes.

A panel consisting of staff and faculty associated with OIIL such as Associate Director of OIIL Luyen Phan, Coordinator of Disability Services  Andy Christensen and Professor of Music Lawrence Burnett addressed the first years’ anxieties by recalling some of their own memories.

In the afternoon, men and women held separate caucuses to talk about their gender identity.

Olgaby Martinez ‘16 stated that she “believes that women should still have the nurturing role, but there should be more equality between men and women.” 

Many opened up emotionally and shared their personal stories. Abhimanyu Lele ’16 observed, “People had less inhibition.”
Everyone then gathered to discuss what it means to be an international student or a student of color. A common answer was “being an ambassador of my country and culture.”

The retreat came to a meaningful close as students realized their self-worth and their impact on others.  They were instructed to sit in a circle facing out, while taking turns touching the people on the shoulders who they thought matched the prompts that were read out.  Prompts such as “ touch someone that has inspired you” or “someone who can make a difference in the world” helped students see themselves in a new light.

Jojo Kuria ’16 remarked, “The session was really great and it makes you realize how little things you do can make such a big difference on other people.” She continued, “It was refreshing, empowering, meaningful, thought-provoking, encouraging, a lot to process, deep, eye-opening and so much more.”

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