On a Saturday cold morning of January 19th, fifty dorm students lined up to go on the school bus to “retreat” away from school for one weekend. After an hour of bus ride, they set their foot on Menucha, a facility used for retreats and conferences. Amongst the crowd of students from all over the world, I could hear sighs and complaints about how coming out to Menucha was the worst idea ever. The attitude at that time was to be diminished in a few hours.
Once everyone settled down and put their things away, we gathered in the hall of the main building. Following a short introduction of rules and goals of the retreat, the dormies were then split into four different “tribes”: North, South, East and West. The so-called tribes then suddenly had their teamwork put to test in a game where they had to get their members across the carpet in the middle of the hall, with the limitation of only being allowed put their foot on the marked circles on the ground. Once that was done, the tribes dispersed to gather in their own separate meeting places.
There, everyone, including myself who was in the “West” tribe, reflected and discovered on who we are. We had to describe and sell ourselves, as if we were all individual brand names, to others in the group. We learned about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. From what everyone in the tribe has shared, we created an identity for our tribe by making T-shirts and a banner, incorporating every tribe members’ attributes into it. However, it wasn’t all community time during the day, there was free time for everyone to spend time outside: going on hikes and playing flag football!
For the nightime activities, the dormies had to sign up for a “Who We Are” activity to perform on Sunday. These activities consisted of singing, dancing, storytelling, videos and skits. After a dinner, everyone dispersed into separate groups to rehearse for the big show the next day.
The next morning, once everyone had breakfast, it was back to business. The tribes introduced themselves to each other in the main hall and prepared for the most epic game of capture the flag of all time. Each tribe had to locate their own “Four Sacred Objects” with the maps and clues. The first tribes to locate and return all of their designated objects back to the front of the main building wins. However, the task was made difficult with dorm parents Justin K. and Peter B. posing as zombies, ready to infect everyone with the wrath of their dodge balls. Following an hour of suspense, the “North” tribe won the game.
Following the lunch break came the finale of the retreat. All the “Who We Are” groups gathered to perform what they had been working on. The singers, which included myself, started off with a performance of “Call Me Maybe”. The dancers then took over, followed by the storytellers and finally the skit.
After twenty four hours of spending time together, free from the distractions of Facebook and Starcraft, the whole dorm community gathered together to reflect on what they have learned during the weekend. We all realized that we are all part of some thing big, something that ties all of us together: a family.