Wednesday is the last day to apply for the Middle Eastern and South Asian (MESA) leadership retreat Nov. 14 to 16 at Sly Park Center – or for what organizers say will be “the most amazing experience you won’t ever forget.”
The second annual retreat is hosted by the Cross Cultural Center and sponsored by a variety of campus organizations. Last year approximately 40 students and faculty attended. This year, they expect up to 65 participants – not all of which will be students in the MESA program.
“Anyone can come to the retreat,” said Nina Massouni, an organizer of the event and third year international relations major. “In fact, the majority of people who come aren’t even in MESA, they just want to learn about what’s going on in our community.”
Thanks to the large amount of sponsorship, organizers have been able to keep the cost of the retreat to $30, a relatively low price compared to other retreats, organizers said. Included in the cost is food, lodging, transportation, workshops and entertainment.
The theme of the retreat is “building bridges to form one community.” It centers on the idea that although the MESA program hosts a diverse group of students from over 45 nations, they all have similarities that will help unite them as a larger, more influential group.
“We have similar cultures and histories and have struggled with our rights to get here in a similar way,” said Fariha Naveed, a third year science and technology studies major and co-coordinator of the retreat. “Through all our struggles, we are all connected.“
At the retreat, a variety of topics will be discussed including the history of the MESA community, interracial relationships, media representation of women, gender and sexuality, immigration and stereotypes. In between discussions led by faculty and students, there will also be time for fun, organizers said.
“You form an automatic bond with everyone there and you know it’s going to last when you get back [to Davis],” said Mo Torres, also an organizer of the retreat and third year history and Chicana/o studies double major. “It’s a safe zone that you just can’t find on campus.“
The MESA program has expanded recently in part due to the establishment of a MESA studies major and minor, which was approved and began offering courses this fall quarter.
The 78-80 unit major and 20-24 unit minor were developed in response to the current misunderstanding of the MESA community, organizers said.
Organizers of the retreat hope that when participants return, they will have learned the skills necessary to be leaders and make a positive change in the way the MESA community is perceived.
“You come back wanting to do good,” Naveed said. “At the retreat you dig deep. It’s a very thought-provoking and emotional experience.“
Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford to attend, and the CCC encourages those interested to attend, regardless of schoolwork or lack of identity with the program.
“More so than culture, we’re hoping to address all our other identities,” Massoumi said. “Come to the CCC and we’ll make it work. Money or school or your race should not stand in the way.“
Applications are due by 4 p.m. and can be downloaded online at ccc.ucdavis.edu and at the CCC across from Olson Hall on the East Quad.
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at email@example.com.