I had the lucky pleasure of living in a cozy, beautiful vacation home in beautiful Santa Cruz, thanks to the DSO SF team retreat. And now sitting in my dorm room waiting for a new week, I am happy, relaxed and recharged. Happy for reconnecting with this amazing group of people, relaxed because that’s why beaches exist (!) and recharged after intimate and inspiring conversations.
Arriving at Santa Cruz in the afternoon, we began the retreat with icebreakers and home made quesadillas, thanks to our very own Crystal, one of the SF ELs. Appetites satiated, we broke out into teams to talk about our experiences during the year, both in client teams and DSO as a whole. A little later, the whole team reconvened to have a joint brainstorm session on how to make DSO even better in the coming year(s). We reflected on the many layers of impact that DSO facilitates on our clients, students, ELs, the internal team and the international development ecosystem at large and how we can amplify that impact in the future. I am super stoked about the ideas that come out of that session and look forward to translating those ideas into action in the coming year.
Our productivity definitely called for a reward and what better reward than food. We drove down to downtown Capitola for dinner and then to the beach for a bonfire, s’mores and more DSO. Our conversation that night reminded me, and I am sure everyone, about what motivates each one of us to stay committed to DSO.
From wanting to make a difference beyond hosting events on campus to utilizing professional skills in emerging markets, our reasons might be different but we are all united by the deep desire to learn about and contribute to international development.
These desires were reinforced by our Google Hangout with Saurabh and Amy the next morning. I was inspired by their vision for DSO, their insights about international development and also thankful for reinforcing to us, students, to stay true to issues we care about and engage with them deeply during our college years and beyond. We put our reenergized selves (both mentally and gastronomically, thanks to Crystal again!) to good use by breaking out into teams for work sessions, or GSD: Get(ting) Shit Done, as Lauren put it aptly. With work behind us, we headed to the beach for one last time. Lying in the shade with the sea a few feet away, we ate, talked, slept, read, took photos and reflected. And my reflection is as follows:
I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know the SF team better in a gorgeous sun-kissed setting, have delicious food for every meal and most of all for the time to reignite my passion for international development. Too often, passions get dimmed in the humdrum of psets, midterms and the quotidian routine. I am glad to have been a part of this retreat for it reminded me as to why I’m here and my vision for myself and the world.
*“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”* – Margaret Mead
Contributed by Sonal Goyal