One of my favorite parts of my job is being the advisor to OLA. Simmons College's group Organización Latina América has been around since the late 1960's. At the time, this organization was a part of BSO's group because the students wanted Simmons College to support the students of color. After 40 years much has changed. OLA is now its own group and is creating events and opportunities for dialogue. One major event during Hispanic Heritage Month has been planning and creating a retreat for the students of OLA. This is the first time this group has held a retreat! Here are some of the activities the students took part of and I helped organize:
Adjusting to College
Students of OLA sometimes experience a particular brand of homesickness, where missing family is especially acute because family is the world to a lot of us. Many of us often also have to explain to family the typical day of a student and what college is like for 1st generation college students. Many parents of OLA student have not been to college or even graduated high school. There are times when academic issues occur due to language barriers and financial aid issues. Having a chance to discuss all these topics is rare and also a relief for the students of OLA. It is important to make time for this during our retreat.
OLA and their Allies
OLA is open to the community and is not just for latino/a and hispanic individuals. We want to acknowledge our allies and also include people from multi-cultural backgrounds. I created a presentation for the retreat to discuss how to support members from different walks of life. For OLA it's not just about inviting allies into our community, but also supporting them.
In order to know where you want to go you have to know where you have been. Reflecting is a crucial part of any retreat. In OLA it's not only thinking about the group and its events but thinking about where the group wants to go next and how else it can impact Simmons College.
Hermanas Unidas means sisters uniting and it was a perfect theme for our retreat. We hope this retreat helps our community grow together and allows us to welcome new members from the Simmons community.