From August 17-18, all the Grade 11’s went to the Hong Kong Gold Coast for our IB Retreat. This was a really fun experience as I was able to learn about the IB DP programme through the various activities and talks we had. I was also able to bond with my peers through being able to spend time with the friends I already know, as well as the random roommate selection, which allowed me to bond with people I don’t know very well, and get to know them better, thus make new friends.
One of my favourite activities from the Retreat that I really enjoyed was the Crossroads refugee simulation. I found this the most interesting, as I did not know what to expect going in, but after the simulation was over, I learned a lot more about the world we live in today. During the simulation, we were split into groups as that was our family, and had to make paper bags with only limited amounts of newspaper and glue made out of flour and water. We had to sell 10 paper bags to store owners to earn money, and use that to pay for the expensive rent and food and water prices to the landlord. There were also resources that could have benefits for our family but at a high cost that most of us couldn’t afford. I remember I felt quite stressed when folding the paper bags, as we had to make more in order to earn more money for our family and whenever we didn’t have enough money we had to give up other items that we had like shoes or phones. However, I learned that in reality people have to give up their children or their bodies to pay the high rent cost. I was able to be put in the shoes of people in poverty, and experience the feeling of having no dignity or pride, and having a sense of injustice, as each round got harder and harder. The discussions we had after that reminded me that what we did was a simulation so we knew it would be over, but in the real world, this is happening everyday in people’s lives, and is almost a never ending cycle. This has taught me that even a small difference can make a big change, and no one is too small to make a difference, and overall this was a great experience that I have learned a lot from.
Another activity I enjoyed from the retreat was talking to the alumnis. I liked talking to them because I was able to learn a lot more about the DP programme as they have been through it before, and I was lucky to be able to talk to an alumni who knew a lot about the arts since she took theatre, and since I am taking visual arts at a higher level, I was able to learn more about what to expect in the arts. After talking to them, I learned that DP is not just a ride in the park, and is different than what we were used to in the MYP, hence I know that I have to put a lot more effort to do well these next two years.
During the second day, there were a lot of seminars led by our teachers, and they were all special and interesting in their own ways. One of the seminars that challenged me was Mr Tyrrell’s, as it made me question about our existence and our thoughts and whether they are true. He made us think about the way we perceive things in the world, and tried to get us to try thinking of nothing, which was pretty hard to do, as our brains are working and we have many thoughts that we can question about on a daily basis. This is a way of finding our path, as I would have to think deeply about what I want to do, where I want to go when I’m older, and a lot of thoughts have to be taken into consideration to build a pathway that works for me. Furthermore, another seminar led by Mr Smeed that was challenging was learning to accept failure. We played a game where we had to make a circle and not catch the ball by dodging it in a creative way. It was challenging because I am used to just catching when a ball is thrown at me, but it was a good experience as it taught me that DP won’t be as easy as we think, and there are times where we have to accept failure and learn from it to improve and be even better.
Other than Challenge, another one of the Retreat themes was Passion. The seminar about CAS which was led by Mr Hamilton encouraged me to go and do more community service that I am interested in, and it connects to what I learned during the Crossroads simulation, as I want to make a difference in our world even if it’s small, it might help someone a lot. I learned that CAS is not just for the hours and is not something we have to do because it is mandatory, but instead, we should do the service because we enjoy it and are passionate about it, and want to make a difference for an issue we care about. Furthermore, this also ties in with the Taking Action seminar that was led by Ms Safaya, as she showed us that our actions should be about something we are passionate about, and that it can be carried out in a direct or indirect way. This is also a way of trying to find our path, as I want to know what I am passionate and not passionate about in order to create a pathway for the service that I am going to do.
Lastly, I enjoyed the yoga session that Ms Van de Broucke led, as it allowed me to relax my mind and body after all the seminars where we had to think a lot, and it was a good way to put a close to the two days of the Retreat. Overall, I enjoyed the two days of the IB Retreat as it was a memorable experience because I was able to gain a lot of knowledge about the DP programme, create closer bonds with my peers, and learned a lot more about the world around me.