BY JESSICA MENDOZA, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Fall Leadership Retreat along with Augsburg Latin American Students (ALAS), Augsburg Asian Student Association (AASA) and the Pan-Afrikan Student Union (PASU). As a first-year student, this experience was very valuable in helping me connect with other students on campus. The retreat’s focuses were building leadership skills and community bonding. Students from each organization traveled to Camp Icaghowan to participate in team building activities as a large group and with their individual organizations. The retreat created a welcoming environment for all students and provided ample time to build new relationships and to try new things.
One of the first activities students participated in was a team challenge. Groups were instructed to create a skit showcasing three types of team dynamics: highly ineffective, moderately effective and highly effective. The experience was valuable because it allowed students to use their creativity to showcase their specific team dynamic. The presentations were entertaining and were a great reminder of the need to work cohesively with others for class projects.
On Saturday afternoon, students engaged in team building activities lead by YMCA employees. Students were instructed on how to complete a diverse set of team challenges. The activities required that members do their part to help successfully solve each challenge. The retreat coordinators also took into consideration the need for relaxation. Students had the opportunity to rock climb, canoe, kayak, swim or just rest for recreational time. Even though some students did not know how to swim, or had never tried these activities before, the retreat provided them with a safe space to try them.
The majority of the retreat was spent with the organization that students chose to come with. I went with ALAS, whose programing was led by Ruby Murillo, the director of Latinx Student Services. From the very first night we arrived, it was clear one of the retreat’s main goals was for students to connect with their cultures. ALAS enjoyed conchas. The emphasis on embracing one’s cultural heritage was an important component of the Fall Leadership Retreat experience.
In my few weeks at Augsburg, I have been glad to see efforts by the school’s organizations to ensure students are culturally competent. The retreat was a great start to this year for all the student organizations that participated. Many upperclassmen at Augsburg have enjoyed this retreat so much that they have participated in it each school year. Be sure to sign up to attend the Fall Leadership Retreat next year.
This article first appeared in the Friday, September 29, 2017, Edition of The Echo.