Opening Retreat: Equity Fellows Prepping for an Exciting Program Year

The Opening Retreat, the first of six learning events in the fellowship year, introduces Fellows to the goals and activities of the program year; gives them an overview of key concepts related to leadership, social justice, and health equity; and delivers hands-on training. The retreat also provides time for these highly motivated individuals to share their backgrounds and get to know each other. It’s a great deal to accomplish in just one week, yet Fellows responded with great enthusiasm to each session of the action-packed agenda at the 2018 Opening Retreat, held March 18-24 in Hoi An, Viet Nam.

Presentations on leadership, inequality and inequity, and health equity frameworks, led by the EI team, introduced Fellows to the building blocks of the induction year. Time for discussion and reflection helped Fellows identify their talents, strengths, and leadership qualities, as individuals and as a group, so that they could start the process of creating a vision and mission for their cohort as well as for their own work in expanding equity. Several sessions on public speaking, led by speaking coach Bienvenido Policarpio of the Philippines, gave Fellows hands-on training in translating their goals into convincing communication.

To promote the bonding essential to the program’s success, Fellows were placed into small groups for discussions of case studies in equity and health; “buddy pairing” was set up to ensure Fellows made new connections that crossed national borders, disciplines, and professions; and time was dedicated for leisure activities such as yoga exercises, a Vietnamese cooking class, and sightseeing. The spirit of friendship and solidarity, which was so clearly evident at the Opening Retreat, sets a strong foundation for Fellows’ collaboration over their induction year and beyond.