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A (Re)treat for the Weekend: Same Same but Different

A (re)treat filled with bonfires, marshmallows, a starry sky and a clear conscience — what better way to celebrate the end of Week 2?

A (re)treat filled with bonfires, marshmallows, a starry sky and a clear conscience — what better way to celebrate the end of Week 2?

Time flies in your first two weeks at Carleton. When I say fly, I mean it flung me around like a KingDa Ka from Six Flags.

One moment, you’re talking to your CS (Computer Science) professor about your programming assignment, and before you know it, you’re in the Japanese Garden shooting a short film for your CAMS (Cinema and Media Studies) class. By the end of these two weeks, you may feel like you want to take a pause and just focus on a little bit of self-introspection.

What to do then?

Well, one of the best parts of being at Carleton is that you have a strong sense of community that might’ve already anticipated your needs before you even get to it! There are many on-campus organizations and offices like SHAC, Office of the Chaplain, and OIIL!

One hectic night, I received an email — a much-needed one! It turnt out the OIIL office was going to have an overnight retreat for all!

“Same Same But Different?”

We left campus around 5 p.m, Friday afternoon. Our campus is pretty, but I almost forgot about the rest of Northfield and Minnesota — green fields, clear blue skies, and many many lakes! The ride to the camp really reminded me of all those things.

We arrived at the campsite around 7.00 Friday evening and had a short orientation and introductions. We did an activity where we had to go around finding someone who had 6 different things and 6 similar things to us! On my first round, I was lucky to find another student who, aside from our identical pair of Nikes, had more than 6 different things, while on the other hand, even when the time was up, I couldn’t find anyone who had 6 similar things to me. It was a small activity but it emphasized that everyone has their own unique identity, and it reminded me to be appreciative of that.

After that, we settled into our cabins and went for a nice warming bonfire in the woods. It was very chilly still, but how can I miss the S’mores?! Friends gathered around the fire, one or more S’mores in their hands, and conversations flowed. I took the time to look up to the skies, and it was breathtaking. The sky was without light pollution, and had many stars. One of these days, I hope to catch a glimpse of a shooting star.

As for the cabin situation, I found myself in a position I never faced before, or even thought of facing. I was a Cambodian kid in a cabin with a group of black students of various backgrounds. I found myself heavily surrounded by friends of different ethnicity and culture from my own, I felt intimidated that I wouldn’t be able to connect with them substantially because I was different — my skin color, my culture and simply because I came from a different background.

I could not be more wrong. I repeat: “I COULD NOT be more WRONG”.

At first, yes, I was nervous and felt left out. Suddenly, somebody grabbed my hand and the next thing I knew we were dancing in our cabins to all sorts of Afrobeats and Caribbean music!

“Come on, let me show you how to dance to this!”

“Woohoo. Go Lita!”

And, you can imagine how the rest of the night went…

Well, actually I became tired very quickly, and then I crashed in my bunk bed soon after.

I had a lot of fun that night, and I also faced nuances of challenges that surely not only I am facing, but I’m glad that I could share my experience and how it went for me. I think when it comes to these things, you just have to be open and curious about your own surroundings 🙂

Stay tuned for the next piece about what happens when I wake up the next day. Hint: it’s full of warm fuzzy feelings.

Lita hails all the way from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. When not riding horses, petting them, or sketching a picture of them, she blogs her philosophical brain dumps on Medium. Other than that, Lita is passionate about social impact startups and edu-tech. She plans on majoring in Computer Science, but who knows, she could simply switch to Studio Art and spend her days drawing horses. Hey, that’s why we’re at Carleton, am I right? Meet the other bloggers!

three girls by the lake
Nicholas and I are in the same OIIL Mentor group :)
Two girls hugging
Blue skies and green field