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I planned and implemented a Transfer Retreat for Filipino/Pilipinx transfer students at UC Berkeley—there hadn’t been a Pil Transfer Retreat for about 10 years. At UC Berkeley, the Filipino student population stands around 3%. Transfer students are allotted an average of 2-3 years of attendance in comparison to traditional students who attend for 4+ years. Since this was new programming under Pilipinx Academic Student Services (PASS), I had to advocate for funds to be allotted and distributed to the Transfer Retention Component. During this process, I guided 3 interns and delegated tasks accordingly.

Problem & Solution – The following was submitted to PASS admin in order to receive funding.

There is a need to better integrate new transfers into the Pil-community and empower them to be active participants—participation has been low in recent years. Most programs for PASS are oriented towards a younger demographic—for incoming freshmen. A different paradigm and presentation is needed for transfers who only have an average of 2 years at Cal. This retreat will serve as a crash course for Cal culture and provide a healthy framework for new transfers, both socially and academically.

Finances & Logistics – I oversaw expenditures for the program—approving lodging, food, and transportation expenses. We came under budget and were able to re-allocate the surplus to other Transfer Retention programming. We spent 3 days and 2 nights in La Grange, CA—taking a total of 12 attendees in 3 cars—all expenses paid by PASS. I led the development of the program for the weekend and delegated specific tasks for interns to facilitate group activities.

Assessment – After the program, we collected feedback from attendees to assess performance and impact. All the attendees shared positive sentiments. In terms of improvements, the main suggestions were to have a longer weekend and more funding to accommodate more students.

It is super important to reach out to transfers because I feel like many of us have a hard time fitting in at first. Especially myself, not only am I transfer but I am also commuting. It is hard being away from campus and meeting people. I made a lot of friends because of this retreat. This is hard because usually friendship cliques and groups are already established when you transfer in so one might feel hesitant with making new friends. The retreat has greatly improved my transition to Cal. Ever since the trip, I’ve been a lot more content with things.

This transfer retreat really emphasized the power of community and solidarity within the Pilipinx community; since it’s geared at transfers it felt sort of like a gateway into the entirety of Cal’s Pilipinx population. I loved how laidback it was, everything was at our own pace. I think making this a tradition would show what each Pil identifying transfer can offer to Cal. If transfer retreats continue in the future, I’m sure the overall vibe will be the same, but it’s the people that make the retreat unique!

I was able to build more/stronger connections with the Pil transfer community and establish a social support system of people that share similar both similar and different experiences, perspectives, identities, struggles, and ideas. I liked being able to create a safe space amongst the group in order to effectively express ourselves and share personal information, as well as bond with one another in creative and fun ways (activities, programs, recreation, FOOD (cooking, eating together while watching Filipino comedians).

Because my schedule is so erratic, I find it difficult to accommodate time to spend quality time with friends. This retreat enabled me to dedicate an entire weekend to getting to know my PASS community on a deeper and more personal level. There was many takeaways but this was the most important for me. It’s important for future transfer students because making good connections is difficult when you’re coming in “late”. You’re also so focused on getting as much as you can done in 2 years that you forget or don’t have time to hang out with friends so this is an opportunity to get away from the academics of Cal and enjoy other amazing people’s company.

Transfer Talks – Community Discussion

During the retreat, we recorded a group conversation that covered topics around the transfer experience at Cal. The following questions were discussed:

  • What was a struggle during your first semester transferring into Cal?
  • Have you experienced the Imposter Syndrome and how have you dealt with it?
  • What has been helpful in your transition?
  • What makes the transfer experience uniquely different compared to the traditional path?
  • How can traditional 4-year students support transfers?
  • What do you want to see in the Pil transfer community at Cal?
  • What is your advice to future transfers?

The Weekend & Attendees