How To Sponsor a Multicultural Retreat by Dr. Charles Taylor

How to Sponsor a Multicultural Student Retreat


A multicultural retreat allows white students and students of color an opportunity to learn about other cultures by experiencing and sharing it firsthand. Participants who may not know each other spend several days and nights, communicating, eating, rooming and working together.

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Product Description

“When you consider the cultural activities, the robust discussions, the personal challenges and the emotional roller coaster ride of witnessing young people open their minds and hearts-wow-what an experience!” –M. Howard, Assistant Dean of Students

Understanding ALANA Perspectives

How to Sponsor a Multicultural Student Retreat introduces participants to selected aspects of the experiences of ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) groups. It doesn’t teach participants what it means to be African, Latino, Asian or Native American, but rather provides exposure to that reality.

Three aspects of culture are presented on each ALANA group that is featured: 1) the cultural contributions—music, dance, art, etc., 2) problems the group faces in contemporary American society, and 3) the group’s U.S. and world history. The intent is to provide participants a context in which to understand the issues impacting a particular “racial” group. How to Sponsor a Multicultural Student Retreat includes all the resources (books, films, and websites) you’ll need to provide a comprehensive overview of each group’s culture. The historical overviews provided of each group typically lead to some of the most electrifying discussions during the retreat that you’ll witness anywhere.

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Planning Your Retreat

If you think the retreat experience is worth replicating on your campus then How to Sponsor a Multicultural Student Retreat will get you started. Now’s the time to bring this innovative program to your school. With this book you’ll find everything you need to organize your retreat such as: the essential retreat agenda; tests and exercises that are both fun and informative; multicultural resources and historical overviews; step-by-step planning information and much more! You’ll find tips on how to select participants, speakers, the facilitator and sample activities you can engage students in on the bus ride to the retreat site. A handy checklist is provided so that nothing falls through the cracks.

Human Relations Activities for Your Retreat

There are over 25 unforgettable activities to choose from including introductory activities, warm-up activities, icebreakers, sensitivity exercises and history tests and quizzes on each ALANA group. The activities alone are worth the price of the book. You’ll be able to use them year-round! As a special treat Ethnic Recipes are provided allowing students to sample delicious mouth-watering food ranging from soul food to Chinese food. Having students help prepare the retreat meals makes them even more meaningful and students really love this activity.

What Makes the Retreat Experience so Powerful

A group of caring but skeptical students assemble themselves to dialogue over some of the most sensitive issues our society faces. Issues like racism, sexism, inequality, diversity and inclusion. At first they are really hesitant about what they say, being careful not to offend, but the structured activities slowly force them to be honest, rather than tactful. This allows straightforward communication to occur. Although a weekend may not be long enough for lasting change, it is time enough to create a foundation for change.

Social psychologists have presented convincing arguments about the effect of inter group contact and under what circumstances it can lead to positive outcomes. Allport’s contact theory has been instrumental for the study of intergroup contact and the conditions required to reduce prejudice between groups. Allport suggested four conditions necessary for optimal contact outcomes between groups; equal group status within the context, shared goals, cooperation rather than competition between groups and support from authority (Pettigrew, 1998). The multicultural retreat meets all four of Allport’s conditions.

Current research has expanded upon Allport’s theory considerably and added more nuances to it. A meta-analysis of the research shows that prejudice generally declines when all these conditions are met, but that these conditions should be considered as overlapping rather than independent factors (Pettigrew and Tropp, 2006).

Building Lasting Friendships

The cultural retreat promoted in this book is designed to be informational and educational, but not complacent. It is dynamic and at times confrontational. However, as a result of such discourse, a certain bonding often takes place between participants. A sense of community among the participants frequently occurs. This process of permitting oneself to be vulnerable and open to new ideas often gives one an insight that results in increased cultural awareness. Comments like, “I had no idea…,” are common during and after the retreat. Even the free time serves an important purpose during the retreat because participants are required to spend half of it with someone of a different racial group.

Disagreement and confrontation are treated as a natural consequence of cross cultural interaction, almost as prerequisites to honest interaction. Participants are told to channel their anger at issues rather than individuals. It is not uncommon for participants to question why they subjected themselves to this experience at the beginning of the retreat. Nor is it uncommon to hear comments like, ‘Do we really have to leave?’ at the close of the retreat.

Multicultural retreats won’t solve racial problems in our society or on our campuses and that is not their intent. However, they do provide people the opportunity to explore racial and cultural similarities and differences. This is what college is all about, to allow students to take risks and to grow; to challenge them to make a difference and to help make their campus an institution that celebrates diversity.

Follow-Up Activities

Since the real test of the retreat’s effectiveness must occur after it is over, participants are expected to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?” They are expected to answer this question individually and collectively as a retreat cohort.


 Order this book today! Paperback from Amazon $24.95;
or E-book (pdf file) $12.95:

$14.95 Add to cart

Although this book focuses on retreats for college students, it can be used to plan a retreat for community organizations, church groups, clubs, high school students, fraternities—anyone interested in supporting diversity and inclusion.


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