Diversity retreat: tolerance, appreciation and respect

Photo Credit: Taylor Hutson

The squeals, laughter, and smiles of the girls in the cafeteria pierced the room. Energy was at an all-time high as groups crowded around the tables. After sitting down through the entire APEX retreat, the freshman were ready to get moving. Link Leaders ushered their crew through various activities, such as cookie decorating, coloring, and games, to help ease the freshmen into the afternoon topic of diversity.

The class of 2018 was the first to experience Mercy Link Crew’s Diversity Retreat, which was held on Oct. 15. Two crews were paired together, and they spent the afternoon discussing topics such as differences, discrimination, labeling. The first activity gave students a forum to discuss how they have been treated because of their appearance. Our similarities and differences were then fused into the next activity. Students realized that these differences were typically superficial, and their true-person was more than skin-deep. The freshmen expressed their feelings toward negative and positive labels; they even wrote a poem about their identities by explaining what defines them as a people.

“I loved how much each of the girls opened up and shared their feelings about freshman year experiences,” said senior Mikayla Kempf. “It was helpful for us to see what freshman are struggling with and find ways to help.”

This retreat is the first of its kind to be offered to students. The idea originated from Dean of Student Affairs Ms. Eleasha Tarplin and freshmen counselor Ms. Trish Brown. Some Mercy students are not used to such a diverse school environment. The Diversity Retreat creates an avenue for students to express their experiences with diversity and how theses appearances affect their lives.

Many freshmen found the retreat beneficial. It allowed students to share their feelings in a controlled and safe environment.

“The retreat meant a lot to me,” said freshman Liz Opiela. “It made me rethink a lot about my life, and how I should live it.”