Multicultural leadership retreat encourages students to care for both themselves and their community

The Office of Multicultural Affairs held its annual Fall Multicultural Leadership Retreat (MLR) over the weekend of Sept.14-16 at Seashore United Methodist Assembly in Biloxi, Mississippi. The retreat was conceived seven years ago to discuss social identities, intersectionality, personal values, experiences and life at Tulane.

Events were centered on the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and the Multicultural Competence Model.

“It is targeted for freshman right now to really help them get connected and understand how to take advantage of the resources to explore some issues,” Carolyn Barber-Pierre, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, said. “We talked about how you build community and what kinds of ideas student would have to address them … We talked about academic awards and how do we create ways in which we address microaggressions.”

Students participate in a meditation exercise on the beach in Biloxi, MS.

New to the retreat this year, the concept of self-care was incorporated. Discussions covered the connections between financial, mental and physical health, highlighting the importance of taking care of one’s self to be able to take care of others.

On the schedule were yoga and mediation, social change workshops and a discussion on how to make Tulane a safer and more inclusive atmosphere.

“It was a weekend in Biloxi on the beach where we had really in-depth discussions about our identities and our experiences at Tulane,” junior Semhal Abbady said. “We had many discussions about issues we see on campus and talked about different teams we can resolve these issues and make it better for the next generation of students. We also split into groups and all worked and pitched an idea/project we want to work on at Tulane. The project would be funded and supported by The O.”

Students discuss the importance of self care

Students were encouraged to fully invest themselves in the trip. By being placed in a new and open environment, students earned a greater sense of belonging and community.

“This retreat means a lot to me especially having the opportunity to get away from campus and be with like-minded individuals who share similar identities to me,” Abbady said. “This retreat is really important and I recommend it to all incoming freshman and any student who hasn’t attended. It’s beneficial and the experiences and discussion you will have will stay with you forever.”

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