Courtesy of Sara Luzuriaga

As Yale welcomes its most diverse class ever and as cultural centers on campus expand, many of these centers host retreats — time spent away from campus — to give their members the opportunity to de-stress and get to know each other.

Last weekend, Yalies from several of the University’s cultural centers as well as student groups — such as the Yale International Relations Association and the Control Group — were invited to go on overnight retreats as part of the University’s organically-formed tradition of stepping away from campus each fall. Some retreats are relatively new, like the second annual Asian American Cultural Center overnight, while others like the annual La Casa Latinx Retreat — which took place on Sept. 14 this year — are hosted annually.

Eileen Galvez, assistant dean of Yale College and director of La Casa Cultural told the News that the cultural center’s annual retreat is a long-standing tradition that aims to bring students together as a community and foster a sense of belonging within the first few weeks of the school year.

“As the Latinx community continues to be underrepresented at Yale, it is critical that we foster support systems early on,” Galvez said. “Students view the retreat as something special and [it] is often viewed as a highlight of the year. [Our outing] has also inspired other community retreats and we are thrilled to know that this sense of belonging can be adaptable for others.”

Galvez added that she wouldn’t say Yale has a “retreat culture,” but instead that students and staff alike are able to invest their time into fostering friendships and building solidarity through attending retreats.

Izzy Lopez ’23, who attended the La Casa retreat for the first time this semester, praised the day away from campus for introducing her to a supportive group of people and inspiring the whole Latinx community at Yale.

“I definitely gained a sense of belonging to the community at La Casa and this retreat has helped my Yale experience by showing that there are other people who have similar experiences who I can turn to when I need help,” Lopez wrote in an email to the News. “The retreat was also important to the Latinx community as a whole because it revealed just how many of us there are on campus and [that] we all can be inspired from the amazing things that we do.”

Following in the footsteps of La Casa, the Asian American Cultural Center hosted their second annual retreat last weekend. Karen Li ’22 said that the retreat focused on bonding over Asian American identities by sharing stories about Asian American histories. She was happy that the retreat gave the group the time and space to listen and learn about each other’s perspectives.

The Afro-American Cultural Center hosted their first day-long retreat for first-year and transfer students at Deer Lake Scout Camp on Sept. 21. Eden Senay ’22, who helped plan the event, told the News that she hopes the retreat will happen every year so students can continue to form bonds over their shared identities.

“I think it’s super important when you’re first finding your group on this campus to build friendships and connections, especially when you share a part of your identity,” Senay said. “We wanted to make sure that people could find a community, especially within the house so that all people who choose to affiliate with it feel welcomed.”

La Casa Cultural was established in 1977.

Audrey Steinkamp | audrey.steinkamp@yale.edu