At the beginning of every semester, the International House Program Office organizes two-day retreats at Walker Creek Ranch in Marin County, offering residents the opportunity to have fun and meet new friends.
I attended the Spring 2019 Resident Retreat as a Program Assistant and thought it was an excellent way to start this new semester. Not only for being in the scenic countryside (far from the city and full of happy cows), but also for meeting new people from all over the world and discovering new cultures.
We arrived at Walker Creek Ranch at noon, where we were greeted by three naturalists who worked there. We all wore name tags and started the weekend with games aimed at getting to know each other.
One of the best activities was a game led by the Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership (CIL), in which we talked about the meaning of each other’s names and surnames. It was very interesting to learn about how much a name can mean and the ways by which different cultures form their identity around them. Other activities organized by CIL helped us develop teamwork strategies and experience the value of cooperation.
After a tasty dinner, we were ready for the bonfire. The best moment was trying the S’mores. This is done putting a marshmallow in the fire until it is almost melted, and placing it with chocolate between two graham crackers.
This was the first time I have ever tried this very American camping and it was amazing! The unusual name is a contraction of the phrase “some more” because that’s what people say when they try one, “I want s’more please!”
The next day we had to wake up early, and after a very good breakfast, we went on a guided hike around Walker Creek. The views were amazing, as you can see in the pictures. We saw a beautiful lake and peaceful cows around. We also had the good luck of seeing a salamander in the river!
We listened to the members of the I-House Program Office staff explain all the opportunities available for residents, including the Sunday Supper, Resident Concert, Coffee Hours, etc.
After having lunch and playing some basketball, we left Walker Creek Ranch to return to International House. But the trip wasn’t over! We visited the scenic Point Reyes beach on our way back to Berkeley. The weather was amazing for January, and although the water was very cold, we really enjoyed having a fun time at the coast.
It was a wonderful weekend, but like all good things, it had to come to an end. It was a memorable retreat in which we met lots of residents and got to know different countries and cultures. I will never forget this experience at Walker Creek Ranch!
For those who lived at I-House, what is your favorite memory of the Orientation Retreats? Tell us in the comments below.