W’SUP team at the student leaders’ retreat: discovering community and building connections

W'SUP News team members share their experience at the recent Student Leaders' retreat at Crowne Plaza hotel in Hawkesbury Valley. ...

A two-day annual getaway on the 12th and 13th of February 2024 organized by the student community staff, took the W’SUP team away from campus and into Hawkesbury Valley’s gorgeous Crowne Plaza hotel. This was the perfect breath of fresh air they needed to revive their spirits.

The retreat was exclusive to Student Leaders of the university and executives from the Student Representative Council, as well as the University’s many clubs and associations, were also present to take part in this rewarding experience.

Activities in the retreat were tailored to develop their leadership skills and allow them to network with each other, but there was so much room for fun as well! For the W’SUP team especially, this was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with fellow students and rejuvenate their connections.

With its sweeping lawns, shimmering lake, delicious food, exquisite rooms and alluring pool, the venue was the perfect setting for the exciting memories that were made, as well as the learning and growth of the team as they harnessed their potential as representatives to their peers.

(Credit: Shabnam Siddique)

Ray, who is W’SUP’s Social Media Officer, was especially touched by his experience at the retreat. Ray says.

“For the first time since I’ve moved to Sydney over an year ago had I felt that I found my people. Everyone was weird and annoying and passionate about the strangest things (just like me).”

His experience seems to have changed his life in Sydney. According to Ray, the retreat not only inspired supporting other’s success but also equipped student leaders with tools to create a community and made them realize why taking initiative is a worthy cause.

(Credit: Raynesh Charan)

Luci, one of W’SUP’s Editors, has a similar take. He describes how the retreat was a fun opportunity to socialize and get to know his teammates and is excited to move forward with this new found sense of comradery and familiarity.

Luci adds, “What I found valuable during the workshops for my role and myself was learning how to network and understanding having to develop a proper action plan and setting clear goals.”

He believes these are important for forging connections that could be pathways for inter-club collaborations.

(Credit: Shabnam Siddique)

Speaking of collaborations, Julia, a long standing W’SUP Editor, elaborates on how the growing popularity of student clubs and organizations makes it all the more important that W’SUP works together with them.

She says that the retreat provided an opportunity to meet such club members who are already involved in the community and create a blueprint for upcoming content.

Julia shares her thoughts by saying, “clubs can pool their resources, creativity, and expertise to create engaging and diverse content that resonates with a wider audience.”

She is certain that this is a huge step forward in elevating W’SUP’s work as this will not only enhance the student experience by sharing their voice, but will also build a sense of unity within campus.

(Credit: Shabnam Siddique)

Nataša, W’SUP’s Acting Director of Student Publications, is also very enthusiastic about the connections she acquired during the retreat and the impact this has on her interest in journalism.

She shares her insight on what she learnt during the workshop conducted by Josh Farr on day one of the retreat, “I learned how valuable and useful it is to be able to verbally communicate with others.”

Nataša says that talking to peers and clients is a chance to identify issues that could hinder their potential and let them know you can help find solutions.

She further adds, “I found that activities outside of class and work – such as workshopping ideas for fun content, and talking about hobbies – help build solid relationships, and can last all through your uni life”

(Credit: Nataša Aster-Stater)

Looking back on the retreat and hearing my fellow W’SUP teammates experiences and reflections, I cannot agree more: The student leaders’ retreat was indeed an amazing space for discovering community and building connections.

The stunning aesthetic of the hotel and its surrounds created beautiful memories that I captured in photographs. The skills we learned and the connections we created, and the fun we had during those two days were beautiful and will certainly prove to be long-lasting.


When they call you a terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (Review)

‘I hope it impacts more than we can ever imagine.’ – Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter The #BlackLives...

‘I hope it impacts more than we can ever imagine.’

– Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is one of the most prominent modern movements coming out of the United States. After the recent coverage of race-based violence by white folks from police officers to people on the street against African-Americans, Patrisse Khan-Cullors writes a first-hand account on why she co-founded along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi the Black Lives Matter movement, a chapter-based group formed in the US whose mission is to “build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

The memoir, co-written by asha bandele, is a short memoir (257 pages) but it is engaging from start to finish. As a white cis-female reading this, it made me think the privilege I have of being born white – I don’t have to worry about being stopped by police or coming from a race that has a large incarceration rate. Reading this memoir made me think about the similar race problem that we have in Australia. According to Amnesty International, Indigenous children make up 1 in 15 kids in Australia and half of all children in Australia’s youth detention centres. As of 10th May 2019, 89 children (half of them were Indigenous, and three were 10 years of age) in the Brisbane City Watch House, a facility for adults.

The memoir moved me to be a better ally to people of colour (POC for short) and to acknowledge that because I am white, I come from the place of privilege. One part of the memoir moved me. This part was about Mike Brown, an 18-year old African-American who was gunned down by police on August 9th, 2014.

“But here in Ferguson, Mike Brown was part of the fabric of a community not sectioned off by gates. He was known here. Here, he was loved. We see people out in the streets, in small groups, in larger ones, sometimes by themselves. They are wearing Mike Brown t-shirts. They are hosting small protests or teach-ins. One person holds a Prosecute Darren Wilson sign. There is graffiti on walls that reads simply and bodly: We Love Mike Brown.”

The memoir is a must-read. It certainly checks your privilege and makes you understand the reason as to why Patrisse and others start this powerful movement. To create equality and to put an end to the injustice of African-Americans and other POCs when it comes to feeling safe and protected.

Iesha Evans in the famous photo. Photograph: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters