Sisterhood retreat promotes “female empowerment”

Alfredo Aparicio/Staff Writer

A strong sisterhood is all-inclusive. It creates a safe space full of open communication, provides a multitude of ways for self expression and seals bonds that go on to last a lifetime.

This year’s seventh Annual Sisterhood Retreat’s theme, “Sisters Sharing Shoes,” is making strides to break the stereotypes of being too “girly” or too “sporty” and ensuring that every woman in attendance finds in her sisters a secure place within the sisterhood and constant support.

“It started with Suzanne Onorato, the former director of the Women’s Center, seven years ago,” said Bronwen Bares Pelaez, the associate director at the Women’s Center. “One of the main reasons we think it continues to be successful is because it provides the opportunity for women to get together on campus without having to be part of an organization. It’s open to any female student who seeks a supportive, empowering, fun environment without commitment past the weekend.”

The retreat, which starts on Oct. 19 through 21 at LaBelle, Fla., will host various activities and workshops that will help those in attendance increase self-knowledge, establish goals, and identify how values affect the decisions they make as well as outdoor activities, such as canoeing, kayaking and biking.

“The weekend is about female empowerment,” said Jenny Guerra, a graduate assistant at the Women’s Center and chair of the committee for the Sisterhood Retreat. “It’s a time to build relationships, bond with each other, and have discussions about the issues affecting all of us.”

One of the activities that kicks off the weekend is “Burning of the Burden,” in which everyone sits down around a campfire and talks about the obstacles that have shaped who they are today and how they can let go and move toward the future.

“Sharing’s not required,” Guerra said, “but it’s a time that we are able to be ourselves and talk about things that are taboo and keeping an open mind and always agreeing to disagree.”

The students who attend will be staying in a cabin, separated into rooms with three bunk beds — each with its own kitchen — while keeping an open floor space at the center.

“I always say, ‘it’s like a slumber party,’” said Guerra, who will be going for her seventh year. “The students are about to become friends, and a lot of the time they continue to be friends past the weekend.”

The weekend will also provide an opportunity to deal with the heavier issues affecting women in society today.

“We have workshops on body image and personal goals and, in the end, it’s a fun weekend to explore and reflect on things we sometimes don’t think about too often,” Guerra said. “We challenge [the students] to think about the goals they want to accomplish and to think ahead and that what’s happened in the past has already happened.”

The Sisterhood Retreat costs $20 for the whole weekend, which includes transportation, snacks, food, lodging and all the materials needed for the entire weekend. The deadline to sign up was extended to Friday, Oct. 12. To sign up go to GC 2200 at the Modesto Maidique Campus or WUC 256 at the Biscayne Bay Campus.

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