By Bailey Musselman '18
"I learn something about myself when I hear other students talk about their identities," Xinyue (Vela) Lu '18 said after attending her second Global Learning Retreat.
Lu and other students attended the two-day event, which featured guest speakers and provided a space for students to discuss what it means to be a global citizen. The 2016 Global Learning Retreat took place at Knox College, in collaboration with Augustana College.
The event, which is in its second year, was created to provide students an opportunity to learn about global citizenship and to reflect upon their own experiences in the context of an increasingly globalized world. Through the retreat's theme this year of "Navigating the Intersections," participants considered how culture, nationality, citizenship, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other identities shape people's experiences around the world.
Students who attended the retreat gained exposure to resources for continuing their awareness of social justice in the global context, and they explored ways to affect change as global citizens.
"I went last year and I had so much fun, which is why I attended again this year," reflected Lu. "It's really interesting to see people from another college and to learn how they think about the world."
The Global Learning Retreat offered facilitated workshops and reflections, intercultural communication, discussions with faculty and staff experts, as well as other activities.
Diandra Soemardi '17 was eager to participate in the activities and discussions.
"The topic of intersectionality really intrigued me. I am here to learn about other identities and at the same time share my own culture," said Soemardi. "I was able to share about my background during interactive activities."
As part of the retreat, Knox faculty members and guest speakers held a series of breakout sessions and global talks. For example, Antonio Prado, associate professor of modern languages and literatures (Spanish), presented on Bilingual Identities: the Catalan and Spanish Struggle for Coexistence, and 2016 Stellyes Distinguished Lecturer Hala Jadid Al Kash presented on The Syrian Refugee Crisis: A Personal Perspective.
Augustana students DaeNia La Rode from Trinidad and Tobago and Brinda Murali from Sri Lanka said they were grateful for the opportunity to visit another college and communicate with students from different backgrounds.
"I think it was really insightful," La Rode said of the retreat. "The topics were really well presented. It finished strong, and you saw energy from all the presenters."
(Photo at top of page: Participants in the Global Learning Retreat conclude the event with a Pumphandle at Alumni Hall.)