“Us vs. Them”: 2017 Posse Plus Retreat Focuses on Addressing Division

Wesleyan Posse Veterans class of 2020

Wesleyan Posse Veterans class of 2020

On Friday February 10th Posse Veteran Scholars, students and faculty boarded a school bus for the Posse plus retreat. Posse started its veterans’ program in 2012, and this is the initiative’s third year at Wesleyan, now with a total of 32 veterans studying on campus. The Posse Plus retreat is an annual event, and is open to anyone interested in engaging in a dialogue with Wesleyan’s Posse Scholars.

After a few bumps along the snow-sprinkled roads the bus came to a halt at Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT. This year’s location, Wisdom House, currently operates as an interfaith center but was formerly a monastery. It’s equipped with conference room spaces, boarding rooms, and a chapel. While laying down the ground rules, one of the sisters commented on the space’s school-like appearance.

Although both the bus and Wisdom House seemed reminiscent of school days, the theme of the weekend, US vs. Themchosen over the summer by Posse Scholarsdid not quite resonate with the wide-eyed, naivety of childhood. Members of the retreat were encouraged to discuss and engage with contentious topicsnot excluding the political or the personal. Although he expressed apprehension about the theme’s political relevance, George Sanchez, the retreat facilitator, said it was, “The perfect time to do it.”

The workshops began with some mixed opinions about the terminology “safe space,” but as more constructive exercises began, they evolved into conversations largely aiming to communicate across, around, and in between the current political schism. At the end of the retreat participants were encouraged to take a survey about the retreat, which had “life-changing” listed among the options for its level of impact. Although no one commented in those exact terms, Lance Williams ‘20, a member of Posse three, reflected on the array of perspectives present in his first retreat, “I am really grateful to have this experience to connect to the Wesleyan community, and I can’t imagine another way that it could have happened.”