The theme for this year’s “EXPLORE! Because the world awaits,” encouraged students to explore vocations with respect to their learning and potential majors but also encouraged them to consider their vocations in the larger context of the needs of the world.
A total of 92 first-year students joined 13 facilitator triads comprised of faculty, staff and students for the 11th annual EXPLORE! retreat held January 9-10.
During the retreat, students participated in large group presentations from PLU faculty and staff and small group activities with their facilitator triads. These sessions were designed to assist students in identifying and articulating a “Big Enough Question,” or BEQ. These are the questions that don’t have easy answers, the questions that cause us to pause and ponder and often keep us up at night. BEQs represent questions about identity and place in the world and how those two things come together.
“BEQs are questions that force us to pause… and to ponder. They keep us awake at night. They represent questions about who we are, about what our place is in this world and how to bring these two ideas together.”
Students practiced developing resiliency skills necessary to facing and overcoming obstacles. They had the opportunity to hear from a panel of faculty and staff who shared their own vocational journeys in deeply personal and meaningful ways, and they considered the five character strengths associated with academic excellence and a sense of meaning and purpose.
Five character strengths
Curiosity · Hope · Persistence · Zest · Compassion
Many students who participate in the retreat apply to be facilitators in subsequent years. They, too, are impacted by this dynamic event. Two faculty members in particular have been facilitators for more than five of the 11 years the retreat has been in existence.
Our facilitators also continue to wrestle with their own BEQs and have a sense of fulfilling their own vocations as they engage with students in this type of learning. Plans are already underway for next year’s retreat.
The culmination of the EXPLORE! retreat is a closing ceremony at the end of Day Two. Students are asked to reflect on their work of the past 24 hours and write a goal, an intention or a BEQ on a gold star. The impact of their experience becomes evident as you read their stars. Some write about their goals of increasing their GPAs, making friends, trying new things or taking better care of themselves by eating well and sleeping more.