By Jennifer Sanchez
The Third Annual Latinx retreat is taking place February 8th and 9th. This year’s theme is ¡Uniquely Latinx! We will connect with our personal identities, analyze issues within the larger community, and explore ways to take care of ourselves and others. It is important for Latinx students to have a safe space to talk about these topics since they are often not addressed in our daily life. Additionally, students will discover a support system at DePaul that is made up of their peers and DePaul staff. With all the stresses of school, work, and our daily lives, this weekend provides an opportunity to focus on self-discovery and community building.
For me, the most beautiful part of the Latinx retreat is the bond between the participants. Students are able to identify with a community at DePaul. We create a familia through fun games, shared laughs, and words of encouragement. My favorite memory from last year’s retreat was the “name curtain game.” Two people stood on opposite sides of a blanket, and when it was dropped, we had to yell out each others name. Everyone became very involved and it brought amazing energy to all the activities. By the end of the retreat we had created a strong community. At a large university in Chicago, it can be difficult for students to find a sense of belonging. Last year, as a transfer and commuter student, I shared this feeling. However, through the retreat, I met amazing people from all over Chicago and the world. Some of them are my best friends at DePaul.
With a team of seven students and staff, we have been planning the retreat since September. We met to brainstorm ideas for the retreat, create a detailed agenda, and divide our roles. Since our first meeting, our unique perspectives have sparked creative ideas for the retreat. Our team includes representation from various Latinx organizations in campus such as Tepeyac and DALE. I have appreciated getting to know each other and using our strengths to work as a team. I am excited to see each student leader’s personality shine in the retreat, whether it is through leading energizers, sharing a Witness Talk, or creating a productive discussion.
We have been blessed to have amazing staff supporting the planning of the retreat. Our staff volunteers include Gina Leal from Vincentians in Action (VIA), Monica Ramos from the Eagan office, Joshua Symser-DeLeon from DePaul Alumni Relations, our amazing CCM staff members Azucena De La Torre and Amanda Thompson, among others. I have learned so much by working with them. They all have been supportive mentors for the team and I.
This year, the retreat has some new surprises. Let’s just say that we are going to be visiting a special place for the Latinx community. For those who have gone in the past years, I believe there is a new experience for everyone. For those who have never been at the Latinx Retreat, I encourage you to come share the space with other Latinx students. We are looking forward to sharing experiences and building a uniquely Latinx familia.
If you are interested in signing up to join us on the retreat, please visit go.depaul.edu/Latinx2020. We hope to see you there.