Cohort retreat builds connections, teaches teamwork

The cold wind blew and snow fell the day before, but when this session’s newest group of Academic Transitions Cohort members left for their retreat earlier this session, the bad weather could not prevent them enjoying the start of their Cohort experience.

A student smiles while completing an obstacle course.During the retreat, which took place at the North Bay Adventure camp in Maryland, the students had the chance to enjoy a variety of activities, including an obstacle course, a special shared meal, and plenty of team-building activities.

Like every retreat, the students traveled together with their Cohort instructors and peer mentors, and that provided opportunities for everyone to connect and get to know each other; something Undergraduate Cohort Coordinator, Sarah Jayne, says is an important part of the experience.

“[The retreat] really builds teamwork,” she explained. “It builds the community and bonds students together.”

For one student, Yiwen Kang, building bonds and connections with her fellow classmates was a memorable part of the the experience.

“For me, I really expected and enjoyed this activity,” she said in her written response about the retreat experience. “It made me to know more people, close with my classmates, expanded extracurricular life, [and] studied some American cultures.”

Jayne says that students can also make an important connection with their peer mentors during the retreat. During the entire eight months of Academic Transitions, each Cohort is connected with a peer mentor from UD, and Jayne said that these mentors are carefully chosen.

“We consider different mentors from different walks of life to give the program variety,” she explained.

Four students work together to solve a team building puzzle.In all cases, teamwork between the Cohort students, the peer mentors, and the Cohort instructors is important, and this is something that student, Qiannan Liu, recognized in her written reflection.

Liu said that the team building activities were important to her and her classmates because “We learned the way of teamwork and increased the degree of understanding between each other.”

Additionally, she explained that “Through this activity, I understand that teamwork is very important in both life and study, because the efficiency and accuracy of team work are faster than individual work.”

Currently, the students, peer mentors, and Cohort instructors are busy working their way through the session, and Jayne says that one of the purposes of the retreat is to prepare them for this experience. As she explained, the retreat helps students practice the team building, community building, and social building skills that make Cohort more than just a classroom experience.

So, sometimes it snows and other times it rains, but the Cohort retreat is a crucial element of the Cohort experience, and it’s also one that the students enjoy. As Kang said, “If I can, I really want to recommend this activity to other students. In the future, I will join more activities and use the skills I learned this time.”

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