This past weekend, I was honored and privileged to be able to attend the SANKOFA Black Student Leaders Retreat. This retreat is specifically geared towards African-American students on DePaul's campus who have been recognized as leaders or future leaders. There was an application process in which we answered questions about leadership and the meaning of “SANKOFA” as well as how we view our African-American communities here at DePaul. It was an amazing weekend filled with life lessons and great new friends.
As a senior here at DePaul, I am involved in a lot of different activities. I currently have three jobs, sit on three executive boards as well as the customary 4 classes with 16 class credits. If you are asking how I manage to do all of that without complaint, I would say that I am extremely organized and tell you that there is so much to be done in 24 hours! One of the Protestant Chaplains here at DePaul, Pastor Keith Baltimore approached me as a leader and suggested that I not only apply to be a part of SANKOFA but that I also become a student coordinator for this weekend. It was such a great opportunity that I did not want to miss!
Although, I would suggest everyone to look up the true meaning of SANKOFA, one portion that was pertinent to this retreat was looking back at our past in order to move forward. In the SANKOFA symbol, there is a bird looking back but it’s feet are moving forward. The African-American community at DePaul, both staff and students, decided that it was time to converse as a community rather than as different organizations.
We discussed different aspects of the African-American community such as group unity, self identity, conflict resolution and navigating our way through different organizations here on campus. The days were filled with workshops, presentations and activities to help better illustrate how we as young adults can venture into the workforce and the real world.
One of the key aspects to this retreat was the interaction of different organizations and people. It is very easy to get caught up in your own organization and group of friends and sometimes, you forget that we have an entire campus filled with other people just like you with multiple resources. This weekend brought in networks of people and resources in order to help us become successful college graduates. It no longer became about getting students to understand concepts and ideas but more about community building and creating ties that will never waver. We became a family this past weekend.
I strongly encourage African-American students who will be coming to DePaul to look for more information about the SANKOFA retreat. It is a great way to meet new people, to join different organizations and it also builds our community. The SANKOFA retreat will be an annual event that everyone is encouraged to apply for and who knows, it may encourage you to become a leader one day as well in your organizations. DePaul is all about creating a community right here in Chicago and the SANKOFA retreat is the type of event that will give you another family. When you think of SANKOFA always remember, it is our past that helps us to build a brighter, happier and stronger future.